It’s midnight in May and Prohibition is the law of the land. A boat packed with Canadian liquor is racing through the waters off Portland, Maine, and a heavily-armed US Coast Guard Cutter is in hot pursuit—hungry for another kill. The smugglers are about to get paid for their sins—one way or another.
Emmett Dougal has a penchant for working on boats the Coast Guard loves to shoot at. As he hits bottom and realizes he’s out of options, he returns to his home turf near Seattle weighed down by an identity crisis—Emmett’s a wanted man. Even his brother, a county sheriff, swears out a warrant against him. It’s hard to survive when you’re always looking over your shoulder, or your only skill sets involve fishing and smuggling. To make matters worse, he doesn’t even have a boat.
Blaine Beveridge’s initial foray into the world of fiction is a winner with his smooth, confident, and engaging writing style. A Bit of Candy in Hard Times is set in a time where alcohol was illegal, but people wanted it more than ever and were willing to pay handsomely for it.
Beveridge’s clever yet restrained use of syntax and vocabulary is smart, entertaining, and brings the settings, characters, and story alive, grabbing the reader immediately and never lets go. He displays real talent for crafting vivid, yet measured descriptions of the Puget Sound area, boats, fishing styles and equipment, residences of the poor to the affluent, and other items that resurrect the Prohibition era. Of note is his solid and consistent artistry crafting bright, vibrant scenes ranging from a ride at Coney Island, to a seedy bar where a man can buy bootleg beer, attending an opulent holiday celebration, or the grittiness of a dark, waterside warehouse filled with illegal liquor and suspicious clientele.
The well-crafted characters are compellingly believable. As Beveridge trowels on the conflict his characters act, react, or rebel accordingly, adding delicious texture and tension to the story. Trust between parties can sometimes be measured in what remains in the bottle. The usual concrete line between right and wrong is about as real as the yellow brick road. Characters stagger between moral and immoral guided only by the immediate situation, mood, relationships, or the amount of money or liquor involved.
Beveridge is an award-winning screenwriter, an alumnus of The Writer’s Program at UCLA, former Program Administrator for Film and Television at UCLA Extension, served as an executive board officer of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association, and a US Army Vietnam Veteran.
A Bit of Candy in Hard Times starts with a bulls-eye and enthralls to the last page. It’s tough to put down, so arrange your schedule accordingly. You’ll be waiting for Beveridge’s next book.