4 out of 4 stars
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The Great Liquor War is a historical fiction book by D.M. McGowan. It is set in the 1880s in the British Colony of British Columbia.
Hank James is a young man who has set out into the world to find his fortune. He settles in Rossland where he stakes a claim and makes a living from panning gold. Soon, he realises that he will probably never become rich on that piece of land. Jack Kirkup, a British Columbia Police constable, advises him to start a freight business in Farwell where construction of the transcontinental railway is currently underway. Kirkup's advice turns out to be gold, and Hank is able to build a successful freight business. The railroad construction is policed by the North West Mounted Police. Thus, Farwell is burdened with the presence of two different police forces. Inevitably, these two forces clash. Because he feels that he owes Kirkup, Hank is pulled into the conflict, known as the "Liquor War". With the police forces distracted, criminals in the area jump at the opportunity to intensify their activities.
The Great Liquor War is action-packed and entertaining. It is told from Hank's viewpoint. Hank is quite likeable. He is easygoing and has an amusing dry humour which is edged with sarcasm, making his narrative hilarious!
There was not a single dull moment in this book. This is largely due to its colourful characters, from tough, no-nonsense police officers to pompous judges. Despite this, the book is plot-driven. Thus, there are no tedious backstories that drag out and delay the storyline. Because of the engaging plot, I found that my enthusiasm for the book remained high all the way to the end and did not wane.
I mentioned earlier that the book is narrated by the main character, Hank James. His narrative added to the 1880s feel and setting because he speaks in the style of the time. Most of the time, I found it easy to understand him, but there were a few times when his slang went over my head. Fortunately, I could fill in the gaps by reading the author's note at the end of the book. Here, the author explains which parts of his book are based on true events.
All in all, I greatly enjoyed reading this book. It isn't lengthy, and has a comfortable, slightly fast pace that kept things moving along nicely. I rate it 4 out of 4 stars. It deserves nothing less. If you enjoy stories about cowboys, or legends in the west, then I think you will enjoy this book.
The Great Liquor War
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