Scotch on the Rocks

Howard Browne, Author St. Martin's Press $14.95 (185p) ISBN 978-0-312-05509-7
During the depths of the Depression, the Dawson famiy is forced to sell their Texas farm and nearly all of their possessions. En route to Corpus Christi and the refuge of relatives, the Dawsons--Ambrose; his wife, Ruby; and his mother, Emily--happen upon a bullet-riddled truck carrying a dead driver and a load of bootleg Highland scotch. The illicit cargo seems to provide the key to the Dawson's financial security until they encounter Lee Vance, a con man with his own designs on the liquor. With the promise of a big cash payoff, Vance convinces the Dawsons to sell the whiskey to his mob connections in Kansas City, Mo. The ensuing journey through stifling heat and wicked dust storms, revival meetings and occasional shootouts is hair-raising. The well-paced story benefits greatly from Browne's cinematic use of cutting between characters in alternating scenes within a parallel time frame. Though not deeply insightful, the characterizations are clearly and colorfully drawn with appropriate, homespun dialogue. Browne ( Pork City ) successfully evokes a hot and gritty Prohibition-era Texas where Pretty Boy Floyd and his gang run from the law and two tankfuls of gasoline cost five dollars. Ironically, the Dawsons' plight has unfortunately once again become timely reading. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/04/1991
Release date: 02/01/1991
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