Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Moonshine War

If you're a fan of Justified, as I am, and have already made it through the series finale, you may be jonesing already for a bit more of Harlan County, Kentucky, and if you are, The Moonshine War will likely fit the bill. A book written very early in Elmore Leonard's career--1969 according to my copy--it is nevertheless strikingly connected to his late stories about Raylan Givens, which were the basis for the TV series. It may be 1931 and moonshine rather than meth that everyone's craving, but the feel is very much the same, and certain plot elements seem to have been lifted from this book, though not in a bad way--I expect more in homage. I've read a fair number of Elmore Leonard novels over the years, but none have had this particular feel, and it's striking to me that the end of his career and the beginning should be linked in this way.

There's a slower pace to this novel than some of later ones, which from what I've read, seem to be much more dialogue driven. So it's interesting to me how adept Leonard was at a more descriptive form, which perhaps may discourage some Leonard wannabes, who perhaps take his famous Ten Rules for Writers a little too fanatically.

I happened to take this book up purely by chance and had no idea it would not only dovetail so well with the television series, but also, in a strange life imitates art moment, be a foreshadowing of a Kentucky whiskey heist just days ago. Prohibition may be over and pot gaining a purchase, but whiskey is still worth some scheming, apparently. Pappy Van Winkle, which is one of the particularly prized brands stolen, makes an appearance or two on Jusitified as well.


  1. Thanks for the heads up. This is a Leonard I've not read. I'll have to get myself a copy.

  2. I hope you like it, Dana. It's a little different than the rest.