San Antonio resident David Liss dives headlong into the capital of post-Revolutionary America—Philadelphia circa 1792—and emerges with a pearl of a thriller in The Whiskey Rebels. It’s a two-headed narrative told by Ethan Saunders, an ex-spy who has become a drunkard after being cashiered for allegedly passing secrets to the British, and Joan Maycott, a widow looking to redress the unjust taxation of her late husband’s whiskey trade in the Pittsburgh wilderness. Their interests collide when they become embroiled in a series of stock market plots and counterplots that threaten the newborn Bank of the United States. Saunders is a hilariously insouciant hero in the modern mold (see Robert Crais’s Elvis Cole), complete with the requisite sidekick, Leonidas, a freed slave with a knack for the timely rescue. Their interplay, combined with Liss’s mind-boggling intrigues, makes Whiskey Rebels one of the year’s best reads. Random House, $26