The Whiskey Baron

Written by Jon Sealy
Review by Bryan Dumas

When two men are callously shot dead in front of the Hillside Inn, Sheriff Furman Chambers has to decide if the rumors that “Mary Jane” Hopewell had shot them are true, or if something more sinister happened involving the local bootlegger, Larthan Tull, and owner of the Hillside. True to Southern literature, Jon Sealy brings us beyond the façade of a Prohibition-era southern town and into the lives of those grappling with the Depression, family, and work, from Sheriff Chambers contemplating his life as he winds down his duty as sheriff with one last task to complete, to Tull watching his bootlegging empire collapse to the youngest Hopewell, the nephew of “Mary Jane,” trying to come to grips with an ever-changing world, and his older brother playing a dangerous game of love with Tull’s daughter.

The Whiskey Baron is a hard-hitting, page-turning debut novel from South Carolina native Jon Sealy. He deftly weaves place with his cleverly crafted characters into an intoxicating tapestry of intrigue, tension, and suspense. There are moments when the characters seem almost predictable and the descriptions of the village redundant; nevertheless, this is a novel that understands time and the people living in it, making for a read that will capture your attention well after you have set the book down.