It's hard to say whether whiskey man Bluenose Trogden, resident moonshiner of Pover County, Alabama, is more famous for making whiskey or drinking it. (""Bluenose Trogden was the kind of man who could show up at a political rally with a chicken under his arm without necessarily surprising anybody who knew him."") His hard-faced, Holy Roller wife, egged on by oily preacher Pride Hatton, keeps accounts, and when the forgiveable-sin tally runs out, wreaks the Lord's vengeance on the late great Bluenose. That ""transforming event"" shatters Bluenose's buddy, narrator Brant Laster, just home from college in Tuscaloosa (the first of his storekeeper family) and caught up in a compulsive, joyless affair with beautiful Blake and an equally joyless if instructive job as clerk to the power-wielding judge who decides not to prosecute Bluenose's self-created widow. Brant ruefully recognizes in the unprosecuted murderess, Mrs. Elmira Trogden, a kinship of ""blunted expectation"" and takes a ""sudden leaving,"" a trick he learned from his suicidal grandfather. Brant's shift from future hope to history might save him, as it might save a depression-ridden nation yearning in 1932 for Franklin D. Roosevelt to be ""at large in the land."" In this impressive first novel Raines, a powerful hand at telling a story, mines familiar scenes and themes of southern fiction with a rich, funny, compassionate sense of folks and the places they spring from.