Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Bonus FFB on Wednesday: The Moonshine War -- Elmore Leonard

I was moving some books around the other day and came across a copy of The Moonshine War.  It had been so long since I read it that I thought I'd give it another go, as I remembered it as being one of my favorites of Elmore Leonard's work.

It's 1931, and Son Martin's old army buddy, Frank Long, now a revenue agent, shows up in the Kentucky county where Son lives.  Son made the mistake of telling Long about the 150 barrels of whiskey that Son's father had hidden away to age for eight full years.  That whiskey would be worth about $125,000, and Long has decided he wants it.  He's not acting in an official capacity, though no one in town knows that, and when Son won't give up the whiskey, Long hires some killers and outlaws to help him take it.

Son, being one of those stubborn Leonard heroes, isn't going to give up the whiskey, no matter what, so one of Long's new associates suggests that attacking Son's neighbors and destroying their stills will make Son change his mind.  That doesn't work, though it does turn all Son's neighbors and supposed friends against him.

After I got a little way into the book, I remembered where the whiskey was hidden and how the novel ended, but that didn't spoil things for me.  Getting there was a lot of fun, and the book ends with an extended gun battle that's a real highlight.

It's easy to see this book as a precursor to the Raylan Givens stories.  Just substitute marijuana for alcohol, and there you are.  Good stuff.  Check it out.


4 comments:

Todd said...

Almost Spooky, Bill...you're touching on a number of books I'm unboxing of late...but certain at least almost/potential classics should be in every library.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

For whatever reason, I thought I had read this one, but your recap makes it clear I haven't. I will rectify that. Real Soon Now.

Roy Epstein said...

A great early Leonard. I love all his work but this was during the period I really loved!...his earlier, leaner crime novels like The Switch, Mr. Majestyk, and 52 Pickup (my personal favorite)

Bill Crider said...

I like all of those, and 52 Pickup is a favorite of mine, too. I liked the movie, as well.