Two real, brilliant women on two sides of the law, in a daring game of cat and mouse…
1926, Washington, D. C.
In the Prohibition Rum Wars, the Coast Guard is losing. Eleven million gallons of illegal liquor a year have created a booming smuggling economy, with criminals wreaking havoc on American cities, and everyday citizens thumbing their noses at Uncle Sam. But the Coast Guard has a new, secret weapon—one of the husband-and-wife pair who invented cryptanalysis and trained Great War soldiers—to crack smuggler codes, intercept traffic, and destroy the trade, one skiff at a time. That secret weapon is a 5'2 mastermind in heels, who also happens to be a wife and mother: Mrs. Elizebeth Smith Friedman.
When Marie Waite—wife of a rumrunner and mother of two little ones—notices discrepancies in cargo, she insists on accompanying her husband, Charlie, on a run from their home in Miami to Nassau. There, not only does Marie witness her husband's shortcomings, but she becomes enthralled by Cleo Lythgoe, "The Bahama Queen," who announces her retirement while regaling the thugs at the bar with tales of murder and mayhem on the high seas. In spite of Cleo's warnings about a "new man in the government" who seems to know where they are before they get there, Marie knows an opportunity when she sees it, and she wants the crown for herself so badly she can taste it.
So begins Marie's plan to rise as rumrunner royalty long enough to get her family in the black. What she didn't count on was that the more sophisticated her operation grows, the more she comes on the radar of the feds, nabbing criminals by the daily dozen. Once Marie knows who she's up against, she's more determined than ever to triumph.
On the other side of the law, Elizebeth is the only codebreaker battling scores of smugglers. From solving thousands of intercepted codes and ciphers, to riding along on Coast Guard patrols, to national travel, to testifying in court rooms—all while managing her household—the strain begins to wear on her. Once the work becomes personal, and she discovers Marie as a premier adversary, Elizebeth's desire to catch the woman becomes almost obsessive.
From the glamorous world of D. C. Intelligence to the sultry shores of the Straits of Florida, The Last Twelve Miles—a tale of ambition and envy—is based on the true story of two women masterminds trying to outwit each other in a dangerous and fascinating game of high stakes.
"Move over Al Capone and Eliot Ness! It’s time to make space for Elizabeth Friedman and Marie Waite—a captivating pair of badass women on opposite sides of prohibition law. In her terrific new historical fiction, The Last Twelve Miles, Erika Robuck brings you Elizabeth, the brilliant cryptanalyst who breaks code for the U.S. Coast Guard, and Marie, the equally brilliant rumrunner who plies the waters off the coast of Florida. Never has there been a more fascinating set of rivals and you will find yourself torn over which of them you’d like to see win. Richly drawn characters, a crackerjack plot, and a setting that is equal parts glamorous and deadly make The Last Twelve Miles a must read for 2024." — Deborah Goodrich Royce, nationally bestselling author of Reef Road
"The Last Twelve Miles is the thrilling story of two extraordinary women on opposite sides of the law, but with more in common than they think. Based on a true story, Elizebeth, a meticulous government codebreaker, hunts down Marie, the flamboyant rumrunner who makes and loses fortunes on the waters off the Florida Keys during Prohibition. Both the G-woman and the mobster are also wives and mothers struggling to thrive in men’s domains. A breezy and brutal glimpse into the world of Jazz Age gangsters from a fresh angle. Really enjoyable!" — Anika Scott, internationally bestselling author of Sinners of Starlight City
"Two women, a Coast Guard Special Agent and a bootlegger, face off against each other in this Prohibition-era novel. Their journeys of marriage, motherhood, and career intertwine in this fascinating story based on true events." — Rae Ann Parker, Parnassus Books
"In this gripping and devilishly exciting Prohibition-era novel, The Last Twelve Miles effortlessly tells the story of two real and brilliant women, one running illegal booze between Miami, the Bahamas and Cuba, and the other, a master codebreaker, hot on her trail. Robuck’s meticulous research and impeccable characterization shine through in this fierce, feminist and unforgettable novel." — Nicola Harrison, author of Hotel Laguna
"What a fun and riveting ride! Erika Robuck has unearthed two real-life Prohibition-era heroines—one a savvy rumrunner, the other an ambitious codebreaker—and vividly recreated their adventures, including a tension-packed cat-and-mouse game that threatens to destroy them both. The Last Twelve Miles so immersed me in the wild and raucous world of the Roaring Twenties that I never wanted it to end—even as I furiously turned the pages to see what would happen next." — Karen Abbott, NY Times bestselling author of The Ghosts of Eden Park
"The Last Twelve Miles is a richly detailed portrait of two compelling women on opposite sides of the law. Set against the backdrop of the Prohibition Rum Wars, Robuck has brought two real-life figures to the page with heartfelt intimacy and crackling suspense. A fascinating read!" — Chanel Cleeton, NY Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Cuban Heiress