RUMRUNNERS BY ERIC BEETNER
Most of them tend to lean to the darker, pulpier side of the bookshelf. Short, violent crime capers that continue to pump threads of originality into the crime genre. Usually there is a sly wink to be found in Beetner’s work, a dark moment of extreme violence that leaves you no choice but to make you chuckle even as your palms start to sweat. Clocking in at a breezy 246 pages, RUMRUNNERS may just be the most satisfying work in Beenter’s collection yet. Short, yes. But there isn’t one thing RUMRUNNERS is lacking.
Tucker McGraw is the latest in a long line of wheelmen. His family has always provided the transportation for the Stanleys- Iowa’s local crime family. If there was cargo to transport, be it a crate or a person, there would be a McGraw behind the wheel getting it to where it needed to be. But Tucker never had a taste for cars or crime, a choice that led him to becoming an insurance salesman with a broken marriage. And becoming estranged from his father, Webb, and his grandfather, Calvin. Tucker has regrets about his failed marriage and what kind of father he is to his son, Milo. But really, the less contact he has with the hard driving, law breaking McGraw men, the better.
But when the Stanleys come knocking on Tucker’s door looking for the missing Webb- and the truckload of pharmaceuticals Webb was driving, Tucker has no one to turn to but great granddad Calvin. With Tucker in tow, Calvin leads Tucker on a mission to not only find out what happened to Webb, but to awaken the McGraw that has been sleeping inside Tucker for so long. And if that means burning rubber in muscle cars up and down the highways and byways of the Midwest, then so be it. Driving like a McGraw is one thing. But when Tucker is forced into one of the most awesome, cringe-worthy fights I’ve ever come across in a crime novel? Well, then we see the McGraw spirit really start to manifest itself.
With plotting that constantly surprises, Beetner crafts a tale that proves that a pulp adventure can pack a punch and warm your heart all at the same time.