By: John Larison Publisher: Viking Publication Date: August 2018 ISBN: 978-0-7352-2044-7 Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford Review Date: July 23, 2018
John Larson creates fantastic adventure and breathes credible and vibrant life into his characters in his debut novel, Whiskey When We’re Dry.
In 1864, Milt Harney met his beloved Rosa and took her as his bride. It was undoubtedly the experience of love at first sight and there was no need for a lengthy courtship. They continued their trek west—the destination, the prairie lands of Kansas. It was there the Harney family would stake their homestead claim. Milt’s plan was to become a cattle rancher and, God-willing, a mighty rich one at that. Milt and Rosa started their family and the first of their two children, Noah, was born. Noah was a wild child. He had adventure teeming through his veins and there would come a time the adventure would lead him far away from home and into a life of debauchery and notoriety of a legendary killer.
Jesselyn Harney came on the heels of her big brother Noah five years later. Sadly, the birthing of this wonderous child was far more than Rosa was prepared to endure. As she welcomed her sweet baby girl into the world, God had greater plans for Rosa. Soon after Jesselyn’s birth, Rosa bled out and passed into the great wide open.
Times were tough at best for the Harney’s. There were no riches to be gained from the vision Milt Harney once had of becoming the proud and prosperous cattle rancher. Days were long, and seasons were incredibly unforgiving. Noah and Jesselyn continued to grow and the Harney home grew increasingly small for the three to commune under one roof. Noah didn’t see eye-to-eye on the disciplines his daddy imposed. After a near-fatal fight, Noah leaves for the wild west—and certainly has his designs set on never returning. He wouldn’t learn until much later that the blow he landed on his daddy in the parting fight was the precursor to his daddy’s eventual departure from life. After her father’s death, there is nothing left for Jesselyn to hold onto unless she can find her brother. Little did she know that her journey forward would be the life she never expected to live.
To say this was an exceptional read is an understatement. In my opinion, John Larison has secured his place among noteworthy authors forever more. He mentions this project took him ten years to write. After reading it, I can understand why. There is no stone left unturned when it comes to the precision accuracy of the history in the period within which this novel is set. The historical information that overlays the rich character development and complementary scenery is incredibly interesting and captivating. His dialogue puts the reader in the moment and there is a strong sense of belonging to the story within the first handful of pages. There is wonderful depth to the life he has devoted to the vibrancy of all characters who played a role in this epic account. I certainly hope he is making strides toward the release of his next novel. I pray it will not be another ten years before we experience such a treat. This is a phenomenal read and I am, without question, a devoted fan of your work! Well done Mr. Larison.
Quill says: Whiskey When We’re Dry hits the stands in mid-August. Get set voracious readers! This is a must have epic novel that is written by a truly accomplished author.