Read Whiskey River by Loren D. Estleman Online


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....

Title : Whiskey River
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780356200392
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 320 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Whiskey River Reviews

  • Larry Bassett
    2018-12-14 09:46

    This book and the six others in the series take place in Detroit, Michigan. I grew up near Detroit so that is the draw for me. I enjoy reading books that happen in familiar territory. Each book covers one decade from the 1930s to the 1990s. In this first book the protagonist, a newspaper journalist for a fictitious Detroit tabloid The Banner, tells the stories of the mobsters in the city, gathering information by talking with his sources on the battlefields of the underworld and befriending some of them. He does not become a criminal but is commonly immersed in his stories. It’s 1928, and America is thundering along on wheels made in Detroit, a city growing by leaps and bounds. And while New York and Chicago are just waking up to the bloody hangover of Prohibition, Detroit itself has already been there for a year – filling its bathtubs with bootleg booze and its pockets with cash. This carved-up pirate’s paradise is newspaperman Constance ‘Connie’ Minor’s territory, and he couldn’t have picked one more dangerous. Whiskey River is historical fiction published in 1990. Some of the events and people are a real part of Detroit history but the main characters are fiction. It is reminiscent of The Untouchables TV series broadcast from 1959 to 1963 that chronicled the mob activities in Chicago.There was no Jack Dance, no Joey Machine, no Sal Borneo, or Frankie Orr; saddest of all, there was no Connie Minor. But people like them existed in the city, and the situation in Detroit during the years 1919-1939 was as reported. Thirteen years is a long time. That’s how long prohibition was in force in the United States. But there was no prohibition in Canada, just across the Detroit River.Prohibition in the United States was a national ban on the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol, in place from 1920 to 1933. The ban was mandated by the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution, and the Volstead Act set down the rules for enforcing the ban and defined the types of alcoholic beverages that were prohibited. Private ownership and consumption of alcohol was not made illegal. Prohibition ended with the ratification of the Twenty-first Amendment, which repealed the Eighteenth Amendment, on December 5, 1933.Source: Whiskey River is a good story that captures one era in the history of Detroit. The Mob made a comeback with the success of the HBO series The Sopranos that ran from January 1999 through June 2007.To feel what we felt, those of us who were there, you had to have been there too, and to have been like us, when the river that glittered on the border between the United States and Canada seemed to match the honey glow of the liquid gold that flowed across it when we were all too young and stupid and full of piss and rotgut to believe for one second that it would never stop flowing. You get to know a lot of unsavory people through this book, people who kill other people. You will probably find that you like some of them. You see the story through the eyes of Connie Minor, a journalist who sometimes cooperates, sometimes joins and sometimes protects the Detroit mobsters. The life he chooses is a complicated and dangerous one. I enjoyed reading about it. I give Whiskey River four stars and expect to read more books in this Detroit Crime series written by Loren D. Estleman and published in the 1990s. Copies of used books in the series are available online.

  • Judy
    2018-12-02 04:39

    Whiskey River begins in 1928 at the height of Prohibition. Jack Dance is an eighteen-year-old on the cusp of becoming one of the top (fictional) gangsters in Detroit. Connie Minor, a young reporter of Greek descent, has just begun his career as a newspaper reporter when the two meet in a blind pig on the night it gets tipped over by the bulls. (I had to look up all this early 20th century slang, so if you don't know those terms, you can too!)The story is a case of the strange friendship between these two men. As Jack Dance's career, if you want to call it that, rises in the underworld, Connie Minor's follows in journalism due to his reporting on the activities of rum runners and the accompanying police corruption. Minor writes his pieces with all the insight of an inside story. Though he never commits a crime himself, he is often there when they happen. His fascination with Jack Dance, however, does eventually land him in some hot water.It is a tale you can't put down. The writing is as good as anything by Raymond Chandler, creating the particular flavor of illegal liquor, speakeasies, crime, and violence over the course of about four years.Reading this one on the heels of The Turner House was a whole experience in itself. Detroit was a mighty city in 1920, almost comparable to Chicago. The two novels are bookends on the rise and fall of a major American city.My mom was born on New Year's Day in 1919 in a small Michigan town on Lake Huron. Detroit was the closest city. So the first 14 years of her life were the years of Prohibition. How I wish she were still around and I could ask her if she was aware of it and how it impacted her life. She was a very temperate drinker. My dad was not!I don't remember how I discovered this author or his book. Estleman was born in 1952 in Ann Arbor, MI. Whiskey River is the first in a series of seven novels in which he set out to tell the story of America in the 20th century through the microcosm of Detroit. As he said, "Detroit is the one city whose history mirrors precisely the history of the United States of America." He also wrote many other books yet, despite winning awards, most of his work is out of print already. The Detroit series is now available in eBook form and I plan to read all of them.

  • Donna
    2018-12-09 07:44

    This was one of those books you pick up for the heck of it on your way out of the library. You didn't go in for it, but you walk out with it. It's like going to the grocery store for one or two things, but 200 dollars later, your basket is full.I liked this book. It was set during prohibition times in Detroit. So of course there were bootleggers which I always find fun because I have bootleggers in my family tree. Albeit, not very good ones because my family members spent time in a state penitentiary. In some places this read like a non-fiction account. That was a little different. I liked the MC. He was a strong character and he was able to carry the story. There were times though, where it felt like he was suffering from too much perfection. I also liked the language. The dialog was well written. There was some slang used, which I can appreciate when it is authentic to the time. It is also appreciated that when it is used, the author doesn't spend the next 2 sentences explaining the meaning of it. I always roll my eyes when authors use slang, then feel the need to explain it to us mere mortals.I didn't care for the number of characters in this. There were so many people, the stage doors were constantly revolving.

    2018-12-19 08:57

    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.

  • John Wood
    2018-12-17 09:54

    Having never read Michigan author Loren Estleman and being interested in the history of the Detroit underworld, I decided to give this one a shot. By using an authentic sounding narrative tone and mixing in actual events and people with his fictitious cast, the author creates an engaging story. It was easy to imagine the atmosphere of Prohibition Era Detroit. I was always fascinated by my mother's accounts of playing upstairs with all of the other kids at her "uncle's house" when her parents were downstairs visiting the speakeasy or blind pig as it was known in Detroit. I may be compelled to read more of this author's books!

  • Tom Saunders
    2018-12-11 11:46

    Possibly Estleman's best work, in a career that is knee deep in "bests".

  • Brandi Coffey
    2018-12-12 06:59

    Simply wonderful.Being a recent transplant to the Detroit area I have attempted to experience all things Detroit. When doing research I came across this book and thought I would try it. I am so happy I did. This is one of the most vivid books I have had the pleasure to read and have been telling everyone who will listen about it. I won't give any spoilers, but if you have any interest in true gangsters or prohibition of Detroit get this book, you will not be disappointed.

  • Naomi
    2018-11-27 04:54

    A very authentic look at the prohibition era in Detroit with a lot of detail concerning the city and enivrons. A confusing number of characters and dialogue made the story so involved that it was hard to keep track of everything.

  • Kim
    2018-12-04 12:31

    This was a very entertaining and fast paced novel laced with colorful gangsters of 1930s Detroit. The story was well written and since I love anything Detroit, it gets five stars. I've already got the next book in this series on reserve at the library.

  • Rob
    2018-12-02 06:39

    Reading this is a fun way to learn Detroit 1930's history.

  • Peter Lindstrom
    2018-12-17 12:44

    This book shows Estelman at his best, but also why he is sometimes called "the poor man's Elmore Leonard" (to be fair, Leonard, also a Michigan native, was a big booster of Estelman.) Based on actual events, the writing is action-packed and hard-boiled but he occasionally writes himself into a corner & he gets bogged down with a little too much Detroit trivia. The result is something fun to read, but not as polished as other pulp writers like Leonard or John D. McDonald.

  • Charles Moore
    2018-11-18 10:42

    If you like your noir not only hard-boiled but scorched to the bottom of the pot, it you like L.A. Confidential taken beyond Ellroy's simplistic story, if you like The Untouchables, Whiskey River is for you. This is Detroit during Prohibition and it is wild. I have no idea how many people Estleman kills off but it's a bunch. And they don't go lightly: machine guns, bombs, garrote, knifings, attached to a car battery and thrown in the river. You name, they did it.One thing about this book that makes it interesting and a bit unsettling is the language. Estleman must have had every flapper book and history of Detroit memorized when he wrote this because he soaks the story in local history. But, for 1990s book he chose to speak in 1930s language. It is very distracting at times and you have to be prepared that in those days slang and racism abound on every level of society. Sometimes he doesn't seem to be above the fray even as a first-person narrator when describing what he sees. On the other hand, this is a well-told story. I like the twists and turns and uncovering of big hearts and hard hearts. I don't think I would have wanted to live in Detroit in the early 30s.

  • John Culuris
    2018-12-09 04:35

    The first in what was intended to be a trilogy, there are now seven entries in this series chronicling the history of Detroit through fiction. As the title suggests, this novel concerns the Prohibition Era. The narrator is Connie Minor, a newspaper columnist, a brash young man who thinks he knows how the world works. One night he innocently befriends a stranger in an underground speakeasy, never thinking this man would soon begin his rise through the underworld. It’s an unexpected relationship that serves both men, and through the reporter’s eyes we are allowed to experience the life of a 1930’s gangster. Connie is allowed to ride along with a dead-of-night caravan that crosses a frozen Lake Erie in order to smuggle alcohol into the United States from Canada. But he also witnesses a gruesome murder in the company of a rival mob boss, intentionally up close and sickening, a stern reminder of his position and vulnerability. Connie must find a way to continue to do his job while navigating his corrupt and dangerous city. As with most of Estleman’s work, this book is enormously entertaining. I didn’t expect it to be as informative as well.

  • Gbug
    2018-11-20 05:34

    Whiskey River by Loren D. Estleman is a gangster story. It takes place in Detroit during prohibition. Detroit's located just across the Detroit River from Windsor Ontario. So in winter bootleggers drove a convoy of cars across the new Ambassador Bridge filled them up with cases of whiskey then drove to Leamington Ontario. There they drove across frozen Lake Erie to Michigan. Sounds simple but of course it wasn't. This story is told by Connie Minor a hard boiled newspaper man. While trying to get the scoop on the gangster's story he becomes apart of the story. Connie meets mug Jack Dance aka. John Danzig. A nobody who becomes somebody in the crime world. Their friendship feeds Minor's newspaper column. It also puts Minor in many frightening and dangerous situations.This is quite a violent story. It would have to be. But is well written. Though it is fiction it is historically accurate. Since it is over 25 years old you may have to check your local library or used book store for a copy. But I think it is worth the effort. Whiskey River is the first in a series of Estleman books about Detroit. The second, Motown, which takes place in the 1960's is on my to read list.

  • Chana
    2018-11-23 06:45

    It really wasn't my kind of book although I read it to the end. It is set in Detroit in the 1930's when bootlegging was big business and the cops were grossly corrupt. The main character is a newspaper reporter. He gets in with the gangsters, they seem to like him. He goes on a bootlegging trip to Canada with some of them, he carries large amounts of money as a favor for one of them. He gets caught in crossfire and sees quite a lot of dead gangsters. The main gangster here is Jack Dance, a charming Jewish kid, who likes and trusts the newspaper man Connie Minor. Time moves on and they all are either dead or obsolete. The writing is not very good; it is choppy and there is a lot of slang and cultural references that I didn't have familiarity with. The author was not able to smoothly bring this reader into that time and place. I see that most people liked the writing, so maybe it was just me.

  • David Brown
    2018-11-27 05:56

    I've had this book on my shelf for a long time, and finally got around to reading it. It takes place in Detroit between 1928 and 1939 and it had a very authentic feel to it. My grandfather lived in Detroit during this time period. I grew up in the Detroit area, and I'm interested in history, so I expected it to be a good read, and it was. Detroit during prohibition was full of rival gangster's. The "Whiskey River" of the title was the Detroit river, and it was a gateway for the alcohol that put the roar in the roaring twenties in the U.S. Just across the river in Windsor, Canada, alcohol was legal. Estleman writes fiction, but as I was reading it, it felt very real. I think he did his homework. Now I'm going to have to find a prohibition era history of Detroit so I can better determine fact from fiction.

  • Thomas E.
    2018-11-24 12:36

    Whiskey River is a story about a newspaper reporter who becomes involved with gangsters during the Prohibition Era in Detroit, Michigan. What I liked most about the book is the descriptive detail about the times. The author's descriptions of the city of Detroit, the characters in the book, the clothes they wore, driving from Canada to Michigan across the ice in cars loaded with booze, and so on, are excellent. Yet I also thought that the attention to detail came at the expense of the story in the sense that the volume of descriptive text slowed the action. Any author of historical fiction has to deal with this tradeoff; I would have preferred a bit more action and less description.Having said all that, I enjoyed the book and intend to read other novels by this very successful author.

  • Alan
    2018-11-22 05:46

    This book had particular interest for me. It's a story about organized crime in Detroit during Prohibition, and the historical context was a great backdrop for Estleman's novel. I spent much of my life in the Detroit area including living in Ann Arbor and Toledo, both cities mentioned in the book. Other books in Estleman's Detroit series apparently take place in other decades, which I'm hoping will each contribute toward a good history lesson of organized crime (and other interesting things) in Motown.

  • Zeb Kantrowitz
    2018-11-27 07:59

    These are all interconnected stories about Detroit in the years prior, during and just after prohibition. The city was expanding exponentially as the auto industry expanded. With the coming of prohibition, it was all out warfare between the authorities and the bootleggers. It was hard to tell the corrupt politicians and cops from the gangsters, and the yellow press thrived.

  • Sarah Pongracz
    2018-12-15 04:31

    Whiskey River is a novel about bootlegging, rum running and gangsters in Detroit during Prohibition. Most of the characters and events in the novel are fictional, but they are based on real people and things that took place in Detroit from 1919-1939. A look at a colorful time in our history, told from the point of view of a newspaper man.

  • Mjackman
    2018-11-26 12:42

    I read this not long after W.A. Berger's "The Purples." Both books concern organized crime in Detroit during prohibition. I liked the story of "The Purples" better, but this is the better-written book.

  • Tracy
    2018-12-18 04:54

    This is the first in the Detroit series that Mr. Estleman wrote. It has all the elements of an old radio private eye. Gangsters, dolls and told through the eyes of a wise cracking newspaper reporter.

  • Chris
    2018-11-27 07:54

    A good read for those of us in Southeast Michigan. It slowed a bit in the middle, but the history & characters kept me reading.

  • Holly
    2018-11-21 05:44

    Great mystery set in Prohibition-era Detroit.

  • Joey
    2018-11-22 11:47

    Good book about Detroit during prohibition. For anyone who knows the city, you really can imagine where things are happening.

  • Francie Shoemaker
    2018-12-01 10:35

    This one is a good companion to the other book I read about Prohibition, Last Call. It is a novel concentrated in Detroit and added a few details I did't know such as the origin of Black Bottom.

  • Todd Stockslager
    2018-11-21 11:56

    A novel of Detroit. (1928). Not Estleman's best. Good start, flat ending. Too much description not enough action to wrap it up.

  • Bob Eilenfeldt
    2018-12-14 10:45

    Loren Estlemen is an excellent author. His books are well research and well paced. And.. he does a great job with character development

  • Hilary
    2018-11-25 08:48

    This book started out great, but unfortunately it really slowed down at the end...still interesting, but not a "must read" for me.

  • Claudia
    2018-11-19 10:53

    Classic, old-school detective novel, set in 1930's Detroit.