Published by MIRA on June 28th 2016
Barnes & Noble
From the internationally celebrated author of the Original Sinners series comes a brand-new tale of betrayal, revenge and a family scandal that bore a 150-year-old mystery
When Cooper McQueen wakes up from a night with a beautiful stranger, it's to discover he's been robbed. The only item stolen—a million-dollar bottle of bourbon. The thief, a mysterious woman named Paris, claims the bottle is rightfully hers. After all, the label itself says it's property of the Maddox family who owned and operated Red Thread Bourbon distillery since the last days of the Civil War until the company went out of business for reasons no one knows… No one except Paris.
In the small hours of a Louisville morning, Paris unspools the lurid tale of Tamara Maddox, heiress to the distillery that became an empire. But the family tree is rooted in tainted soil and has borne rotten fruit. Theirs is a legacy of wealth and power, but also of lies, secrets and sins of omission. The Maddoxes have bourbon in their blood—and blood in their bourbon. Why Paris wants the bottle of Red Thread remains a secret until the truth of her identity is at last revealed, and the century-old vengeance Tamara vowed against her family can finally be completed.
I have a dirty little romance secret – I’ve never read a Tiffany Reisz book. I know, trust me. My head is hanging in shame. From what I understand of her work, The Bourbon Thief is a pretty big departure from the rest of her work. Departure or not, if this is representative of her work, then I have really been missing out.
Very quickly I found myself engrossed in this story-within-a-story. The “historical” 1980’s portion of the book, anyway. I was a little less interested in the present-day Paris/Cooper story, mainly because I believed Paris when she told Cooper he’d want to give her that bottle of bourbon by the end of the story, so I felt like I knew how it would turn out. And, frankly, there was just a little less “story” to that story. Cooper met Paris in a local bar one night and took her home. When he woke in the middle of the night, it was to his security team telling him they had caught Paris trying to sneak out, carrying his million-dollar bottle of bourbon with her. When he confronted her about it, she claimed the bottle was rightly hers, and she would tell him the story of its history to prove it.
The story she wove made up the bulk of the book, and what a story it was. It’s been a long time since I read something so atmospheric, so southern gothic. You could feel the doom closing in on Tamara and Levi from the first time we saw them together. It was tempting to dismiss Tamara as a schoolgirl with a crush, which, technically she was, but there was no way that was the whole story. And it was tempting to dismiss Levi as an older creeper, which technically he also was, but there was a lot more to this story than I was expecting.
The story Paris wove of Red Thread Bourbon was captivating. It’s one of those audiobooks that had me looking for excuses to put in my headphones. (There’s a chance I caught some really good Pokemon while I was listening to this book, but only a small chance). Bourbon, family secrets, the flood, the fire, the lush Kentucky landscape, the island of trees where a lot of the story takes place – all of it combined to create a story that kept me pushing play and cursing interruptions, but completely satisfied by the ending. I didn’t come away with any unanswered questions or open threads.
And the narration – wow. I’ve never listened to anything narrated by Kim Staunton before, but she was a perfect choice for this book. Her voice was smooth and slow and smoky and five minutes in I couldn’t imagine it narrated by anyone else. I would actively search out books narrated by her in the future.
Overall, this was a great introduction to Tiffany Reisz. She’s moved up to the top of the authors-I-need-to-read with this one. You’d be doing yourself a favor to check this one out.