Monday, March 09, 2015

THE HOUSE OF WOLFE, James Carlos Blake (March 3 Pub Date)

There is a special shiver of delight and suspense when the protagonists of a crime thriller are the criminals themselves -- and James Carlos Blake nails that delicate edge where it feels completely right to want the bad boys to win.

Even better, in THE HOUSE OF WOLFE -- his third in this sequence -- Blake pulls in a pistol-packing and athletic young cousin, Rayo Luna Wolfe, part of the Mexican side of the arms-running clan. When kidnappers seize her pretty-but-tough American cousin Jessica Juliet Wolfe after a luxe and lovely family wedding in Mexico City, Rayo provides the information that her dangerous Texas family members need for chasing down "El Galán" and his ransom-demanding crew. And then, of course, jumps into the chase herself.

Blake is a consummate storyteller, pushing the pace, the suspense, and the risks in fast short chapters that leap among the points of view of the very determined Jessie, family problem solver Charlie, and even the kidnappers. Jessie's decision to figure out -- and somehow do -- what her great-aunt Catalina would have done turns her into a kidnapper's worst nightmare.

Prepare for high body counts; it's easy to compare Blake's "border noir" to Lee Child's cross-country adventures with Jack Reacher, but I actually find the Mexican scene and the wonderfully mixed motives of the Wolfe clan calling to mind John Gilstrap's fierce rescues and chases. Not for the squeamish ... but probably all too true to some situations of lawlessness South of the Border, and a rattling good adventure. I'll be looking for the two earlier books (The Rules of Wolfe; Country of the Bad Wolfes), as well as future crime fiction from James Carlos Blake, who "was born in Mexico, raised in Texas, and now lives in Arizona." Grove Atlantic, now bringing out the Mysterious Press imprint, carries the relevant website.

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