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Loren D. Estleman:Whiskey River {Excerpt}

Loren D. Estleman:Whiskey River {Excerpt}

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Published by OpenRoadMedia
Like nowhere else in America, Detroit flourished during Prohibition. In Whiskey River, one reporter follows the gripping and violent life of a man who helped keep the booze flowing.
Like nowhere else in America, Detroit flourished during Prohibition. In Whiskey River, one reporter follows the gripping and violent life of a man who helped keep the booze flowing.

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Published by: OpenRoadMedia on Apr 01, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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 The first day: September 25, 1939
The special prosecutor reminded him of Old Man Prohibition in the old cartoons, onlyyounger: tall and gangling, longish black hair plastered back with water, a razor-slash of mouth in a narrow face with a lantern jaw and eyes set too close together. Only thestovepipe hat was missing. Trouble was he could never tell Old Man Prohibition fromJohn Barleycorn as the cartoonists drew them. Maybe nobody could, and that was thesource of the trouble.He swore on the Bible, that anomalous ceremony wherein Church and State were weddedin perpetuity, and sat down in the box, experiencing anew that radical change of  perceptions, as if he were looking down the wrong end of a telescope; and although therewas no gallery, just the judge (one-man grand jury, to put the fine point on it, but a sworn judge notwithstanding and seated behind the high bench) and a paunchy old granite-eyed bailiff with a big revolver behind his hipbone and a young court recorder with a brush cutand freckles on the backs of his hands, he felt like a germ on a microscope slide.The judge had white hair with black sidewalls and wild hairs in his heavy eyebrows thatswayed like feelers in the breeze from the electric fan on the railing.“Please state your full name and occupation,” said the special prosecutor.“Connie Minor.” He corrected himself: “Constantine Alexander Minor. I’m anadvertising copywriter.”“You’re a former journalist, is that correct?”“Yes, I worked for the Times and the Banner and wrote a column for the Continental News Syndicate.”“Do you know why you received a subpoena to testify before this grand jury?”“You’re investigating allegations of misconduct in the police department. I assume youthink I know something about the subject, but I don’t.”“We’re also looking into crimes perpetrated by certain well-known underworld figures inDetroit, some of whom have been mentioned several times in the course of these proceedings. I believe you’re familiar with Salvatore Bornea, alias Sal Borneo, andFrancis Xavier Oro, alias Frankie Orr?”“Slightly. I met them both once.”
 “Your name was given to us by Miss Celestine Brown, Negro, who testified here lastweek. Do you know her?”“I met her on two occasions.”“You knew her late Negro companion, Bass Springfield?”“I did.”“You’re aware of the circumstances of his death?” “I am.” “You were acquainted withSpringfield’s associates, Charles Austin Camarillo, Andrew V. Kramm, and John Danzig,alias Jack Dance?”They sounded like nothing more than people’s names in the relentless prosecutorialmouth. It was a warm day for late September and the fan, oscillating to right and left likea reptile’s head, looped cool air over the back of his neck once every forty seconds,drying the sweat that formed there in the intervals between.“I knew all of them.”“You’re aware of the circumstances of the deaths of Dance and Camarillo?”“I was present when they were killed.”“Indeed? That isn’t what you told the police. We have the report.”“There’s a great deal I didn’t tell the police.”“Why not?”“You’ve been investigating them for five weeks. You should know the answer to thatquestion.”“I see nothing to joke about, Mr. Minor. Official corruption is serious business.”“Also a high-paying one.”“Are you prepared to share your knowledge with the grand jury?”“All of it?”“Unless you have Fifth Amendment reasons for not doing so.”He glanced at the young recorder. “If I used them I’d sound like a thug.”“All citizens are protected by the Bill of Rights, Mr. Minor, not just thugs.”“You say that and I believe you, but what I see is a headline saying ‘Minor Takes Fifth.’It would wash me up as a newspaperman in this town. I don’t want to write ad copyforever.”“Our concern is truth. It should be yours as well. Now, are you or are you not refusing toshare your knowledge at this time of crimes committed in Detroit during your career as a journalist under your Fifth Amendment rights guaranteeing you protection from self-incrimination?”The motion of the special prosecutor’s lips, or rather the edges of his mouth since heappeared to have no lips, fascinated him. It reminded him of the up-and-down choppingof the cutters that separated the long printed sheets into pages as they came off the presses.“No, I guess not.”“Then tell us about your relationship with Jack Dance.”“The whole relationship?”“If you would. As a matter of fact, I insist.” “I hope you brought your lunch, counselor.”

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This is the first in Estleman's "A Novel of Detroit" series. What was originally intended to be a trilogy including Whiskey River, Motown, and King of the Corner —and separate from Estleman's Amos Walker novels—actually became a series of seven books! Have you read any of the Amos Walker titles? How do they compare to his Novels of Detroit?
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