Review by Diane Rapp
Fascinating story about the “roaring twenties” in L.A.
I won’t rehash the storyline as other reviewers already did a creditable job. I will say that I enjoyed reading a “roaring twenties novel” that took place in California instead of New York. Having lived inL.A.andSanta Barbara, the descriptions of real places made the story come alive for me. I once took the ferry to Catalina and toured the building that hopped to big band music and illegal hooch in the twenties.
The author provided me with a copy of this book for the purpose of a review, and I admit that I sighed when I started reading. I thought the story might dwell on gangsters, blood, guts and endless shootouts, but I was delightfully surprised by Hud, the bootlegger hero, and his motley assortment of friends. The author’s “side trips” into the film industry and the business of bootlegging made the book more interesting. My husband grew up in a house in Pasadena that served as a speakeasy (with bullet holes in the walls). This book explains how bootleggers smuggled liquor ashore and how many palms they greased to sell their product.
Hud’s dream involved producing a “talking film,” so this story was not just another remake of “The Sting.” Stone’s narrative got a little too involved with the history of talking pictures for my taste, but the “talking picture” con that got his friend murdered amplified Hud’s motives for finding the bad guys. All the characters were expertly developed, including the sleazy villains—who really had to die! I felt sorry for Hud and his girlfriend but the book was more believable due to their problems.
In the end this book reminded me more of “The Rocketeer” than “The Sting.” Hud was clever and courageous but not really cut out to be a con man. Tension and excitement built throughout the story until I read into the wee hours to finish. It’s a good story that I recommend to adventure and suspense enthusiasts. Stone would be smart to write a sequel (we must know what happens next) but take it easy on the history lessons in the next one.