In Canadian Crime Lit Circles, readers are introduced to two separate, yet distinctly important groups of sleuths: the amateurs, who stumble upon crimes taking place around them, and the professionals, who tackle dirtbags for dollars. These are their stories.
This time, we look at things from the criminal’s side of the fence: Ava Flagg, a bootlegger in North Carolina during the Great Depression. Will her and her crew outsmart their rivals-in-booze in Brad Smith’s Copperhead Road (At Bay Press)?
Name: Ava Flagg
Location: Rural North Carolina, 1936
Appearance: 30-something, sassy and whip-smart
Interests: Saving her family business by selling moonshine whisky
Current Position: Bootlegger-in-chief at the (former) Flagg Molasses Factory
Known Associates: Father, Jedediah Flagg, a preacher who’s not afraid to bend Biblical ideals when necessary. Luther Briscoe, master moonshine manufacturer. Bobby Barlow, ace mechanic, fledgling stock car driver, and soon-to-be moonshine runner.
Known Enemies: Otto Marx, Knoxville gangster. Boone Saunders, backwoods thug. Both heavily involved in bootlegging.
Recent Problems: Losing all her moonshine to the afore-mentioned Marx and Saunders. Ava needs a driver who can out-think and outrun the two. Will Bobby be the solution?
Summer 1936, Wilkes County, North Carolina during the Great Depression. The Flagg family resides in the middle of the Appalachia - one of the hardest hit areas in the country. As the depression drags on the Flagg family watch their molasses business decimated. Jedediah, the family patriarch and his sons Morgan and Ezra struggle to produce a few meager gallons a week. That is until their sister Ava arrives home and takes control of the family business and starts running moonshine. Ava bails out ex-con Bobby Barlow and tells him he is working for the Flagg family now. With threats mounting from rival clans and the local cops breathing down Bobby's neck, he and Ava devise a plan to play them all, one against the other. They don't necessarily do it by legal means but that doesn't bother them. To live outside the law, you must be honest.
Catch up on the exploits of Ava Flagg and her band of moonshiners in Brad Smith's Copperhead Road, a novel that crime writer Ian Hamilton says "smacks of Larry McMurtry – great plot driven by fascinating characters and clever dialogue just speeds along."
And many thanks to Brad for playing gumshoe reporter with us for this instalment of Case Files!