Men Walking on Water

Men Walking on Water

Book - 2017
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On a bitter winter's night in 1927, a motley gang of small-time smugglers huddle on the banks of the Detroit River, peering towards Canada on the opposite side. A catastrophe has just occurred: while driving across the frozen water by moonlight, a decrepit Model T loaded with whisky has broken the ice and gone under--and with it, the driver and a bundle of money. In Detroit, a young mother becomes a criminal to pay down the debt her husband, assumed dead, has left behind; a Pentecostal preacher brazenly uses his church to fund his own bootlegging operation even as he lectures against the perils of drink; and across the river, a French-Canadian woman runs her booming brothel business with the permission of the powerful Detroit gangsters who are her patrons. The looming background to this extraordinary story, as compelling as any character, is the city of Detroit--a place of grand dreams and brutal realities in 1927 as it is today, fuelled by capitalist expansion and by the collapse that follows, sitting on the border between countries, its citizens walking precariously across the river between pleasure and abstinence.
Publisher: Toronto : Alfred A. Knopf Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited, 2017
ISBN: 9780345811011
Branch Call Number: FIC
Characteristics: 551 pages ; 23 cm


From Library Staff

Brooklyn-based Canadian Schultz has set her fourth novel on the Canada-U.S. border between Detroit and Ontario during the Prohibition. Alfred Moss, a driver taking cash and whiskey across the frozen Detroit Lake, plummets in his car through the ice. The people he leaves behind – wife, child, and ... Read More »

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May 01, 2017

This third novel by Emily Schultz is a semi biographical tale of rum runners in Detroit during Prohibition. Before the Ambassador Bridge was built, bootleggers uses boats, and the frozen surface of the river that separates Canada and the United States to smuggle illegal liquor from Windsor, Ont. to Detroit. Emily Schultz was inspired to write the novel by her own family's ties to bootlegging — and pivots it around a character, based on her own great uncle who mysteriously disappeared crossing the river on a cold winter's night. Suicide, misadventure or just an accident?

The book features a cast of colourful characters who tread the line between true immorality and simply trying to provide for their families in an era where jobs were tenuous. It also chronicles a time in the past where matters of immigration and the institution of border patrols and policing between the United States and Canadian borders were important political issues, as timely today as in the heady days of the Jazz Age.

This is a well researched, well crafted and enjoyable story that will transport you back in time to place at once familiar and not.This book is part of the CBC's Spring 2017 Reading list.

Since writing this comment, I passed this book on to my husband, who although a voracious reader of newspapers, magazines and journals, has not finished a novel since I have known him. He loved this book, and read every page, right to the end, commenting along the way about how well written it was. I think that might be a great recommendation.

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