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WHISKEY RIVER [Mass Market Paperback]

Loren D. Estleman
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

July 1 1991
In Detroit in 1925 prohibition has been in force for a year longer than the rest of the States, police corruption is so rampant no-one notices the stench in City Hall. Into this scene comes Constantine Minor, a young and ambitious reporter. The author has twice won the Shamus Award.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Format:Mass Market Paperback
The first novel in the 'Detroit Crime Series' in which the city is treated as an organic entity through various decades of the 20th century, "WHISKEY RIVER" spans from the Prohibition Era to the late 1930s.

Constantine ("Connie") Minor is a Detroit-based journalist who has made a name for himself covering the crime beat in the late 1920s/early 1930s. This was a time in which bootleggers and mobsters carved out Detroit into spheres of influence over which they exerted and established firm control over, not only, the illegal importation of alcohol, but also the numbers rackets, and prostitution. Many of the city's cops often looked the other way, picking and choosing what crimes to solve or ignore (courtesy of a bribe). All the while, Detroit's industrial might (as evidenced by the auto industry) continued to grow, giving the city a dazzling prosperity soon to be tempered by the ravages of the 1929 stock market crash and resulting Depression.

Minor has cultivated a variety of contacts with the city's underworld elements (e.g. Jack Dance, a bold and impetuous bootlegger building his own criminal empire in the city and "Joey the Machine" a powerful and ruthless criminal overlord who will tolerate no challenges to his authority). He brings the reader into the frenzied, at times dangerous, chaotic and colorful lives of the crime bosses, syndicates, police and politicians.

One of the most exciting scenes in the novel is when Minor accompanies Jack Dance and his associates over to Canada one night to pick up several cases of alcohol and convey them back to Detroit across the stretches of the frozen-over Detroit River during the winter of 1930. Amid a flurry of machine gun fire, they barely evade the Prohibition Squad of the Detroit Police Department.
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A considerable work March 15 2005
By F. J. Harvey - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Loren D Estleman is probably best known -at least to crime novel devotees -for his Detriot based private eye ,the Chandleresque figure of Amos Walker .The novel Whiskey River is set in Detroit but not the modern day Motor City of the Walker books ;

rather ,it is the first in what has become a regular series exploring the history of the city from the Prohibition era onwards

It is set in 1928 and the narrator is Constantine Minor -known as"Connie " -an journalist on the Detroit Banner .The framework of the book is his testimony to a Grand Jury investigation into organised crime and racketeering in Detroit as well as police corruption within the city .Minor has known all the major gangsters in the city in his time and was involved albeit in a journalistic capacity in running whiskey across the frozen ice from Canada to the States ,as well as playing a role in negotiations to bring peace between the warring gangster factions ,which it is pointed out are also ethnic divisions .

During his testsimony we meet most of the big players on the local crime scene -all are fictional creations but are consistent with the facts of Detroit crime in the prohibition era .The main focus is on the battle between the gangleaders Jack Dance and Joey Machine .Dance is handsome and charismatic while Machine is more the old style hoodlum .Both are ruthless and merciles in dealing with threats to their hegemony .

Estelman paints a convincing picture of the era , a time when the distinctions between the world of high society and criminal society were becoming fuzzy around the edges .He demonstrates clearly that Prohibition was an unmitigated disaster and creates an electric atmosphere and complete engagement with the characters

The book is not perfect -I found the framing device of the Grand Jury investigation superfluous and it added to the slightly long drawn out nature of the book ,making it a tad overlong .

Setting these minor problems aside this is a major work from an accomplished writer and is unreservedly recommended to all lovers of the crime novel and indeed mainstream fiction which is rooted in reality
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Am In Awe Dec 19 2004
By Barbara Lujan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Loren Estleman is one of the most intelligent and sensitive writers living today and Whiskey River is true "Estleman." In addition to the standard plaudits attributed to his writings his works include an honesty, imagination, and sensitivity to the human condition simply not found in other writers' works. If I may quote from other reviews whose writers say it better than I can (with all due respect and credit): a Chicago Tribune reviewer said, "Estleman could rewrite the Ann Årbor phone book and I'd pay to take a peek."; another reviewer from the Washington Post Book World said, "--you will want to call up your closest friends to read them your favorite paragraphs." Amen.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read Aug. 2 2003
By Anthony Norris - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book is the first in a triology, yet it also a great stand alone read. Told in the first person by a Detroit reporter in the roaring twenties which gives it a great 'you are there' feel. Full of action, suspense and a little sex it is a great read for the beach or a rainy afternoon.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WHISKEY RIVER - A Captivating, Exciting Novel of Prohibition Era Detroit Dec 27 2011
By MONTGOMERY - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
The first novel in the 'Detroit Crime Series' in which the city is treated as an organic entity through various decades of the 20th century, "WHISKEY RIVER" spans from the Prohibition Era to the late 1930s.

Constantine ("Connie") Minor is a Detroit-based journalist who has made a name for himself covering the crime beat in the late 1920s/early 1930s. This was a time in which bootleggers and mobsters carved out Detroit into spheres of influence over which they exerted and established firm control over, not only, the illegal importation of alcohol, but also the numbers rackets, and prostitution. Many of the city's cops often looked the other way, picking and choosing what crimes to solve or ignore (courtesy of a bribe). All the while, Detroit's industrial might (as evidenced by the auto industry) continued to grow, giving the city a dazzling prosperity soon to be tempered by the ravages of the 1929 stock market crash and resulting Depression.

Minor has cultivated a variety of contacts with the city's underworld elements (e.g. Jack Dance, a bold and impetuous bootlegger building his own criminal empire in the city and "Joey the Machine" a powerful and ruthless criminal overlord who will tolerate no challenges to his authority). He brings the reader into the frenzied, at times dangerous, chaotic and colorful lives of the crime bosses, syndicates, police and politicians.

One of the most exciting scenes in the novel is when Minor accompanies Jack Dance and his associates over to Canada one night to pick up several cases of alcohol and convey them back to Detroit across the stretches of the frozen-over Detroit River during the winter of 1930. Amid a flurry of machine gun fire, they barely evade the Prohibition Squad of the Detroit Police Department. In Minor's own words: "... bullets were still hitting the ice. As we sped away from the Packard, having veered too close to its gun for comfort, I watched the battered black Lincoln following our original path with Lon Camarillo standing on the running board, bracing himself with an arm hooked around the window post and pumping away with what looked like a Browning Automatic Rifle at the center of the network of cracks. His face in the moonlight with the buttstock against his cheek looked like the Grim Reaper's...

"... The driver of the Packard was spinning his wheels in a white blur now, frantic to back away onto a better footing. His engine whined, but the car only subsided into a drunken tilt, spoiling the aim of the gunner in back and thrusting its armored prow farther out over the shoal.

"A wheel broke through the car stumbled, then went down on both knees as the ice collapsed under the other front wheel. White floes stood up in shards and slid under the black water. The Packard teetered, rear wheels turning in empty air, a scaled-down Titanic suspended on a cloud of exhaust."

All in all, a very exciting, well-crafted novel.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good feel for the prohibition era in Detroit Sept. 12 2004
By T. Steinborn - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Loren Estelman really captured the feel of the early days of Prohibition in Detroit. This book offers an 'inside' look at the rumrunners and other organized crime operations that centered in Detroit in the late 1920s and early 30s. It was well written, so it held my interest. The grittiness of gang-related activities in Detroit were laid out sparingly but without trying to gloss over the underlying ugliness of the time and the men involved. I will read more of Estelman's books in the not-too-distant future.
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