Rumrunners by Eric Beetner

Rumrunners“Hugh, after this if you ever see me again it will mean we’re both dead and the devil made us roommates.” — Calvin McGraw

Calvin McGraw has seen and done a lot in his 86 years, a great bit of it illegal. Let’s get one thing clear up front though: Calvin McGraw is no criminal—he’s an outlaw. It’s a distinction that makes all the difference in the world to the McGraw family, who have been the go-to drivers for the Stanley clan’s off-the-books enterprise for almost a century.

Now though, there’s trouble in outlaw paradise, in more ways than one. For starters, the McGraw-Stanley connection already looked to be coming to an end. Though Calvin had successfully passed the shifter to his son, Webb, Calvin’s grandson, Tucker, decided to break the chain, opting instead to go into the insurance business. It was a move Calvin and Webb found both disappointing and embarrassing, but in the end they could live with it.

A bigger problem has taken center stage, however, one the McGraws may not be able to live with. Tapped by Stanley patriarch Hugh for a high-stakes and well-paying job, Webb is reluctant to admit he can’t drive an eighteen-wheeler. Instead, Webb enlists the aid of a driver he barely knows, and things go very badly indeed—the cargo is hijacked from Webb, who takes a few hard bumps in the process. Now Webb has two choices: go on the run, or go back to Hugh and admit he lost the precious cargo.

Cut to Tucker’s living room, where he receives a visit from his Stanley family counterpart. Unlike Tucker, the young Stanley is all-in with his family’s business, and informs Tucker that Webb has gone missing, along with a tremendously important cargo. Being family, Tucker is told the responsibility now belongs to him and is given an ultimatum: deliver the cargo or the financial equivalent—ten million dollars. Unable to get in contact with Webb, Tucker does the only thing he can think of, which is to team up with octogenarian Calvin, who’s more than up for one last wild ride—he’s gonna find out what happened to his son, or die trying.

Rumrunners, the latest from author Eric Beetner, is a wild ride indeed. As he’s demonstrated so skillfully in his previous work (see bio below), Beetner has a rare talent for combining breakneck action, pitch-black noir, and razor-sharp wit. The McGraw clan is one of the most charismatic and engaging set of characters I’ve come across in quite some time, with beer-guzzling, never say die old coot Calvin gleefully leading the charge. And Beetner has given Calvin his equal in Stanley patriarch Hugh, a man who has amassed a fortune by playing every angle possible, even if it means selling out and betraying old allies.

Loaded to the gills with muscle cars engaged in frantic chases, guns-blazing shootouts, drug lab arson, and some laugh-out-loud funny improvised hand-to-hand combat—you’ll never look at your garden shed quite the same way again—Rumrunners is a visual bonanza that reads like it was made for the screen. Not entirely surprising given that LA-based Beetner’s day job just happens to be that of TV show editor and producer. Not lost in the madhouse shuffle, however, is the fact the McGraw family genuinely cares for each other, and does live by a strict moral compass. It’s one that may run afoul of the law on occasion, but never of the outlaw code.

The ending of Rumrunners leaves open the possibility of more McGraw action down the road, and I for one sure hope to get another chance to buckle up with Calvin and the gang and go for another wild ride.

Rumrunners is available from 280 Steps (ISBN: 978-8293326489).

– Rumrunners Contest! –

Author Eric Beetner has been kind enough to offer autographed copies of Rumrunners for two lucky winners. To be entered, simply leave a comment below. If you’ve read Rumrunners, sound off on that. If you’ve not yet, perhaps mention your favorite fast cars and outlaws movie. Winners will be picked at random on August 22nd from all commenters. Be sure to leave your email (won’t be publicly visible) so you can be contacted in case you are one of the lucky winners!
Eric Beetner is the author of The Devil Doesn’t Want Me, Dig Two Graves, The Year I Died Seven Times, White Hot Pistol, Stripper Pole At the End Of The World and the story collection A Bouquet of Bullets. He is co-author (with JB Kohl) of One Too Many Blows To The Head and Borrowed Trouble. When not writing he lives and works in Los Angeles where he edits and produces TV shows. To learn more about Eric Beetner, visit his website.


  • Elizabeth A. White

    August 24, 2015 - 10:49 AM

    Congratulations to Paul Baxter and Sarah RH, who were selected as the winners. Check your email for more information on how to claim your signed copy.

    And thanks to everyone for participating!

    • Sarah RH

      August 24, 2015 - 2:20 PM

      YAY!!! =0) THANK YOU!!!

  • Jeffery Hess

    August 21, 2015 - 8:13 PM

    Three chapters into the ebook and can’t wait to see what happens to the McGraws!

  • John Sneed

    August 18, 2015 - 5:29 PM

    As posted with five star review at Amazon:

    This is my first, but not last, Beetner book. It’s one of those that when you start reading there is no way you can put it down. Plenty of action mixed with occasional humor, four generations of McGraws, lead by 86 year old, but still kickin’ butt Calvin, put the pedal to the metal in non-stop mayhem.

    In some place the noir violence is damn gritty, like what Cal did the the junkie who didn’t show ‘nought respect, and in others the humor, like the sound an air mattress can make at night, are busting out loud funny. Come along and enjoy the ride, but remember, they ain’t criminals, they are outlaws!

  • Dave Knerler

    August 15, 2015 - 12:19 AM

    This sounds like great fun. I’m off to Amazon to pick it up. Can’t wait to jump in.

  • Jason Duke

    August 14, 2015 - 11:38 PM

    Great review. Eric is a fantastic writer. It breaks my heart he’s not cherry-picking six-figure deals from big publishers yet.

    • Elizabeth A. White

      August 15, 2015 - 10:20 AM

      Lot easier to review a book when it’s as fun as this one is, that’s for sure. And, yes, Eric is one of many who it’s frustrating to see not getting the mainstream love they deserve.

  • Fox

    August 14, 2015 - 10:36 PM

    Nothing wrong with a wink and nod to Smokey and the Bandit or any other high-octane, southern-fried shenanigans. Sounds like a good’un, this one.

    • Elizabeth A. White

      August 15, 2015 - 10:18 AM

      The official copy calls it “Smokey and the Bandit meets Justified and Fargo,” and that’s pretty accurate.

  • John Sneed

    August 14, 2015 - 6:17 PM

    Rumrunners on the way Amazon prime, click click.

  • John Sneed

    August 14, 2015 - 5:39 PM

    Elizabeth knows I like fast cars and a good story. Rumrunners goes on the to read list. What Elizabeth does not know is that I knew people in the 50’s who were actually reputed to have run white lightnin’. They souped up cars to race on the local dirt track circuit and would haul contraband if there was any money in it for them. Their cars, of the about 56-57 era, could outrun anything the “fuzz” had, and they often did…. just for fun. No foolin’, some of the antics of these deep south good old boys sometimes made the Dukes of Hazard look like Boy Scouts. Bad dudes! Think Robert Mitchum in Thunder Road and you get the idea. ….. Let me tell ya’ ’bout the 57′ Chev I hopped up and …… (need to check the statutes of limitations before I tell!)

    • Elizabeth A. White

      August 14, 2015 - 6:15 PM

      Would that be the same ’57 Chevy you spun backwards down a road at speed in the dark trying to avoid a collision and ended up in a ditch? 😉

      • John Sneed

        August 15, 2015 - 2:20 PM

        Nah, that was a ’60 Ford Fairlane 500 that I took backwards into a ditch, up a bank, and into a very stout fence post at about 60 mph. A very wild ride that was over faster than it takes to tell. I remembered that the first thing to do in major wreck is to turn off the ignition to reduce the chance of fire. I reached forward for the key, couldn’t reach it, and then realized the whole front bench seat had torn loose and was sitting atop the back seat. I turned around and was close enough to the post to touch it, the rear windshield was gone and the back end was pushed in over two feet. Didn’t get a scratch, but gave up one of my cat-lives for sure. The now not so fair Fairlane was totaled. The car I went off the wet road to avoid, the one with defective tail lights, drove past me and kept on going. Bastards!

  • Anthony Schiavino

    August 14, 2015 - 5:23 PM

    Officially posting a comment. This has been on the list of people who also read your book read this one. Haven’t watched many of this type of movie / genre but Death Proof always sticks out with the Charger. Just a fun Tarantino flick you can turn on without much thought. It’s been quite a few years since i’m seen Smokey and the Bandit.

    • Elizabeth A. White

      August 14, 2015 - 5:52 PM

      We actually have Death Proof in the house but haven’t gotten around to watching it yet. Need to correct that.

  • Sarah RH

    August 14, 2015 - 3:45 PM

    ME! ME! ME! It was so great meeting Eric Beetner last year!! And I love fast cars, as if you wouldn’t be able to tell by my tiny sports car. And I’ll take any James Bond movie car chase since I’m in love with the Aston Martin!!! =0)

    Thank you Elizabeth & Eric!

    • Elizabeth A. White

      August 14, 2015 - 4:07 PM

      I agree, it’s hard to argue with Bond for some killer car chases!

      • Eric

        August 14, 2015 - 9:36 PM

        I know, I’m an embarrassment. I drive a Prius. The small one. Don’t tell anyone.

        • Elizabeth A. White

          August 15, 2015 - 9:36 AM

          Don’t tell Calvin, that’s for sure. 😉

        • John Sneed

          August 15, 2015 - 2:23 PM

          Eric, no need to be embarrassed. Just get a nitro system and supercharger and your Prius will kick butt.

  • Ray Adam-12 Latiolais

    August 14, 2015 - 3:33 PM

    Ms. White has excellent taste and I look forward to reading this as I do most of her recommendations.

  • Paul Baxter

    August 14, 2015 - 1:26 PM

    I read an excerpt from Rumrunners, and I was impressed. The style was economical and well paced, and it had well-drawn and engaging characters. I look forward to reading more.

    • Elizabeth A. White

      August 14, 2015 - 4:09 PM

      If you enjoyed the excerpt, I assure you the entirety is even better. Thanks for the comment.

  • Charles Wingfield

    August 14, 2015 - 1:17 PM

    Sounds great. Always loved the Smokey and the Bandit movies, so I’ll definitely give this a try!

    • Elizabeth A. White

      August 14, 2015 - 4:08 PM

      Ah, Smokey and the Bandit is a true classic…just like Calvin McGraw! 😉

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