Layover by David Bell

By Ekta R. Garg

July 10, 2019

Genre: Thriller

Release date: July 2, 2019

Rated: Borrow it / 3 stars

A man meets a woman in the airport and can’t stop thinking about her. He changes all of his plans on the spur of the moment, causing upheaval in his itinerary and his life, and pursues her until she stops long enough to answer his questions. Author David Bell keeps readers moving from one location to another in the mostly satisfying novel Layover.

Joshua Fields has his Xanax and the latest paperback novel in hand, which means he’s all ready for his flight. As a real estate developer, he spends several days every month traveling up and down the east coast to visit properties even though he hates to fly; hence, the Xanax. More than once, Joshua’s considered quitting his job, but his respect and love for the boss—his dad—makes him put off his resignation And, really, it’s not an awful job. He’s making money and is good at what he does.

On his latest layover in the Atlanta airport, Joshua runs into a mysterious woman. Their first encounter leaves him miffed; she’s short with him when all he does is say hello. Their second encounter leaves him mystified; after small talk in an airport bar, the girl kisses him with an intensity he can’t ignore. She tells him her name—Morgan Reynolds—but not much else and leaves.

As he walks to his gate for his flight to Tampa, Joshua tries to find out more about Morgan by going on social media and makes a startling discovery: Morgan is considered a missing person. He manages to track her down to her gate, buy a ticket to Nashville, and board the flight. He just has to know more about her and find out whether she needs help. He knows his dad will be mad him for blowing off the deal in Florida, but he’s played it safe all his life. It’s time, he thinks, to take a chance without knowing the outcome first.

In Laurel Falls, Tennessee, detective Kimberly Givens is working her latest case. A prominent resident has gone missing, and the job of finding him has fallen on her desk. Kimberly hopes wrapping up the case fast will put her in the limelight for a promotion. The promotion would mean better hours, a key to being a single mom to an active tween. She feels like she’s always apologizing to her daughter for missing time together. A somewhat regular schedule would go a long way toward fixing that.

The more she digs into the case, though, the more Kimberly realizes it’s connected to the case of missing person Morgan Reynolds, who, it seems, isn’t missing anymore. Kimberly receives information about a certain Joshua Fields and wonders whether he’s tied to the problem at hand: the prominent Laurel Falls resident was Morgan’s boss. Now that she knows Morgan’s alive, Kimberly fears the worst for the missing man. It seems the only way to find out what happened to him is to talk to both Joshua and Morgan. She’ll just have to find them first.

Author David Bell builds a realistic story to start. Early in the book Joshua doesn’t run away from the police when they pull him aside for questioning. He doesn’t try to perform any heroic antics. Instead, he reacts as most people would, a refreshing change from many novels where the protagonist makes decisions that would leave readers rolling their eyes.

Deeper into the novel, however, the story becomes far-fetched. It’s clear that Joshua is intrigued by Morgan because of her looks and his hormones. The more he finds out about her, the more he should want to stay away. Instead, he continues tracking her down and demanding answers. Even a blow to the head isn’t enough to deter his chivalry.

Kimberly Givens is the most realistic character, a pity because she’s not the main one. Bell chose to let Joshua tell his parts of the story in first person while Kimberly gets relegated to third person. Some readers might wish Kimberly were the lead instead; she’s a flawed heroine but relatable, one readers will thoroughly enjoy.

The book’s timeline gets clouded in all of Joshua’s back-and-forth with Morgan, and even though Morgan is the catalyst for Joshua’s impulsiveness she comes across as somewhat weak. Bell excels at keeping readers moving through the pages, but they may not feel satisfied with what they find by the end. I recommend readers Borrow Layover.