David Liss is the author of the Conspiracy of Paper novels featuring Benjamin Weaver, and I was looking forward to reading his latest novel, The Whiskey Rebels. I was a little disappointed.
Set in New York, Philadelphia and western Pennsylvania just after the American Revolution, the story is narrated by Ethan Saunders, a likeable loser once accused of treason, and Joan Maycott, a wife on the Western frontier, whose husband is a whiskey distiller. The novel opens when the husband of an old flame of Ethan’s disappears. Ethan soon finds himself involved in much more than the case of a missing man: a plot to take down Alexander Hamilton’s Bank of the United States.
While the premise is intriguing, and the first fifty pages had me hooked, it was hard for me to keep my attention on the plot of this novel for very long, and I think that this convoluted story could have been delivered in fewer pages. Joan’s narrative was unconvincing because her voice wasn’t really that of a woman. Ethan’s story was much more convincing. In fact, he pretty much stole the show, and I kept fast-forwarding through Joan’s story to get to Ethan. On the other hand, Liss’s prose, like the young Republic itself, is straightforward and to the point. Although this is a pretty decent thriller, all things considered, my expectations weren’t met.
Also reviewed by: Devourer of Books, Semicolon