Crime-on-Crime Review Series #8: Rumrunners, by Eric Beetner

51pXeCbh4EL._SX352_BO1,204,203,200_Eric Beetner is the Guest Editor for our first issue for a reason. Considered by many to be a rising star in the noir fiction market, he’s released five books this calendar year alone. His writing is quirky and filled with loserish, everyman protagonists who are always in way over their heads, whether they realize it or not. Most of the time they do, and it provides a humor that’s very enjoyable on the page.

I’ve had the opportunity to read several of Eric’s releases this year, but it was his novel from 280 Steps, Rumrunners, that really stood out to me.

What can I say? I’m a sucker for rural noir. In Rumrunners, Beetner’s protagonist, Tucker McGraw, is the classic everyman in over his head, though it didn’t have to be that way. In fact, Tucker comes from a long line of bootlegging criminal drivers, sometimes referred to as Rumrunners. Tucker’s father Webb and grandfather Calvin have worked for a criminal family called the Stanleys for decades, driving countless elicit packages across the state of Iowa and the rest of the Midwest.

But Tucker himself has always stuck to the straight and narrow, though all it ever got him was an ex-wife who hates his guts, and a son in need of male guidance. That is, until his father Webb disappears one day with an expensive load of Stanley meth cooking materials.

When the Stanleys show up at Tucker’s door informing him they intend to hold him responsible for his daddy’s apparent theft, Tucker is forced to enlist the help of his beer-chugging outlaw grandfather Calvin, fresh from the old folks home down in Omaha, Nebraska, to help him work off the debt to the Stanleys by taking on driving jobs.

What follows is pure muscle car mania as Calvin and Tucker traverse the countryside committing odd criminal acts and searching for answers about what happened to Webb. There’s lots of choppy, funny dialog throughout (especially from the classic old coot Calvin), and a pulpy storyline that keeps the laughs coming.

It’s a great ride through the cornfields and around the lakes of the Midwest, and definitely one you’ll want to read. Plus I love the aesthetic of these 280 Steps paperbacks, there’s just something about them that makes me want to pick them all up and read them. They’re  sharp. Pick up a copy of Rumrunners here, and find Eric Beetner online at

Also, send us your best stories between now and December 5th for Eric to select from toward Crime Syndicate’s debut issue. Now crush that beer can and put the pedal to the metal to your local bookstore to pick up a copy of Rumrunners!

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