The Last Twelve Miles

By: Erika Robuck
Published: June 4, 2024
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Historical Fiction

I’ve loved every Erika Robuck book I’ve read. If you love reading about fascinating women in history, read an Erika Robuck novel.

Set in 1920s Washington D.C., Miami, Key West, Bahamas, and Cuba, Robuck introduces readers to two fascinating women on both sides of the law. Elizebeth is a top-secret code-breaker working for the US Coast Guard. Marie is a rumrunner, smuggling liquor across the sea into Florida during Prohibition. The US Coast Guard can’t keep up with all the traffic and they enlist Elizebeth to help. Elizebeth and her husband both work for the government and are the inventors of cryptoanalysis, a process of using algorithms to decipher the secret text.

Through alternating chapters, readers are allowed into the minds of Elizebeth and Marie which offers readers a unique perspective. In one chapter, you’ll hope that Elizebeth can determine the rumrunners’ codes so they are caught. But, in the next chapter, you’ll be rooting for Marie to get away with her latest liquor delivery.

Both Elizebeth and Marie are mothers yet have different motivations. Elizebeth is torn between wanting to be a mother to her children and using her brain for the specific sophisticated job of decoding messages. Marie enjoys motherhood but doesn’t like her husband. She is blinded by her desire to keep making more and more money and get as far away from a life of poverty as she can. As she makes more money, her husband gambles it away or spends it frivolously. Marie is driven by money and can’t get enough of it which may just lead to her downfall.

As you can imagine there is a lot of discontent in Marie’s household. As she gets smarter and brings in new technology (radios), Elizebeth has to work harder and more hours to decode their messages. The cat-and-mouse chase gets intense, people are killed, and danger lurks everywhere. It’s a thrilling adventure right up to the end and I was sad to finish reading about the lives of these women.

“The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

This prohibition story was brand new to me. I’ve read other prohibition stories set in the Midwest since Al Capone ran a lot of the liquor runs from Chicago. Robuck describes her setting with such detail that I felt like I could almost hear the boats coming into shore. The title of the book relates to The Last Twelve Miles of the journey to the US Coast. Those twelve miles are when the rumrunner’s load of liquor is considered contraband. The first part of the journey their cargo is legal. In those last twelve miles, the codes become so important and the race to escape or trick the Coast Guard becomes imperative.

Two intelligent women in history, one who enforced the law and one who regularly broke it, kept me turning the pages. It was a thrilling adventure and one that left me wanting to know more about these women and googling their images. Fans of historical fiction that isn’t a war story will find this fast-paced novel about real women in history to be a great read.

Erika Robuck is the national bestselling author of historical fiction including SISTERS OF NIGHT AND FOG, THE INVISIBLE WOMAN, and HEMINGWAY’S GIRL. Her articles have appeared in Writer Unboxed, Crime Reads, and Writer’s Digest, and she has been named a Maryland Writer’s Association Notable Writer of 2024. A boating enthusiast, amateur historian, and teacher, she resides in Annapolis with her husband and three sons. For more information, check out her website, HERE.

To purchase a copy of THE LAST TWELVE MILES, click HERE.

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Thanks to the publisher for sending a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. If you choose to make a purchase through the above links, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase.

Check out my review policy, HERE.

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