Matt “Hud” Hudson is the rumrunner to the stars. He brings it in from the ships outside legal limits and distributes it himself with his own trucking company. He is also one who deals only in the good stuff and doesn’t water it down like other rumrunners. He knows Chaplin and Douglas Fairbanks and other movie stars.
He even has aspirations of his own in that line. It’s in the early days of sound on film and most of the studios think talking pictures are a fad that will fade. What they’re really worried about is the costs of converting to one of the new sound systems. Most own their own string of theaters and the cost to wire them all would cut into their profits. Not to mention the backlog of silents already in the can that might prove useless. And no longer profitable.
But Hud knew talkies were the next big thing. Just convincing some studio to make one, let him make one, is the tough sell.
That’s the backdrop of this new novel, first in a series, by Jeffrey Stone.
The main story starts when Hud’s best and oldest friend, Danny Kincaid, dies in an accidental drowning when he drives his car off the pier. That’s the police’s conclusion.
But Hud knows that BS. It’s easy for him to see. A bottle of rye whiskey lay on the seat beside him. Danny couldn’t stand rye for a reason that went back to the pair’s childhood. They’d stolen a bottle of Hud’s dad’s rye and got sick. Worse, when dad found out, he made them drink shot after shot until they were completely sick.
The second reason Hud knew Danny’s death wasn’t accidental was even easier. Every finger had been broken, one shoulder was dislocated, and both kneecaps had been shattered.
His oldest friend, Hud knew what had killed Danny. His friend was a grifter, something Hud had gotten away from early in his life. he had too much of a conscious. It had to be one of Danny’s cons that got him killed.
All Hud had to do was find out what, who the mark was, and then it was just a matter of retribution.
I liked this look at prohibition from Hud’s point of view, the early days of sound in films. I had no idea the studios were so reluctant to embrace something new. I should have because, even today, the movie world is driven strictly by the profit motive.