I’ve liked a number of Shaw’s novels and short stories but this one left me wondering if he was out to lunch. For the first two-thirds virtually nothing happens. The basic storyline is about a man in the Air Corp Police that lost his nerve after crash landing. In this future everyone has their own anti-grav harness and can take to the skies whenever they feel like it.
Bob Hasson was chasing a gangster and his partner was killed and he crashed. To keep him safe Bob is sent to Canada under an assumed name until the trial. His host is Al Wheery, a police chief in a small town. Al says he remembers him but Bob doubts it. Al’s wife left him and living with him now is May who never met a man she didn’t like and her mother Ginny who never met a man she did like. Also in residence is Theo, Al’s blind son. He’s getting treatment but it’ll take three years before his sight returns.
The town eyesore is the Chinook Hotel. It was never finished and the only way to the upper levels are through the use of the CG or individual flyer. The levels are used for drug parties and the late owner’s son Buck Morlacher says he’ll do something about it. He runs the town and also made Al chief and runs him too. Buck patrols the grounds with his pal Starr. Both carry shotguns. It’s against the law to fly and carry objects that can drop to the ground. They don’t care.
One day Al asks Bob to pick up his son at school. Bob stops along the way to get a TV. He just wants to be left alone and watch British shows. The appliance store is closed for a short time and he goes to the health food store next door. The owner gets him on yeast and ginsing to help his injures. Bob gets his TV and goes to the school. Theo is with a bad crowd but nothing happens and they head for home.
The book crawls along with a few confrontations between Buck and Al where Al always folds.
Al gets a report that Theo is missing and is probably in the upper level of the hotel. To make matters worse a fire has been reported there. Al and Bob head for Buck’s house and there’s a confrontation with Starr. Bob is getting his courage back. They find out what Buck did at the hotel and they have a real crisis on their hands. This leads to an action packed finale that comes too late to make this book worthwhile. It may have worked a lot better as a short story.