The Mysterious Press, $25.00, 290 pages, ISBN 978-0-8021-2577-4
I always look forward to any new work by James Carlos Blake, because he’s a master of noir. He’s not the most prolific of authors, but he’s surely one of the most polished in all of crime fiction. He’s tackled historical figures such as John Wesley Hardin, Poncho Villa and John Dillinger, among others, with such an adroit touch that extreme violence seems almost like an ordinary occurrence or normal behavior. His books are masterpieces in my opinion. Lately, he’s invented a fictional family called the Wolfe’s, who live on the border down at Brownsville, Texas and whose roots go deep into American and Mexican soil. Their story began in the 1840s with the Mexican-American War, and now, in his fourth novel about the family: The Ways of Wolfe (The Mysterious Press, $25.00, 290 pages, ISBN 978-0-8021-2577-4) James Carlos Blake delivers a spirited and lively story about Axel Prince Wolfe. Twenty-some years ago Axel, then a college student and the heir apparent to the Wolfe family’s prestigious Texas law firm and it’s “shade trade” criminal enterprises, was involved in a high-end armed robbery that went disastrously wrong. It was an event from which Axel Prince Wolf drew a thirty-year prison sentence . . . to the absolute horror of his family. Two decades later, with eleven years still to go, all he wants to do is meet the young woman his daughter has become while he’s been incarcerated. He teams up with a young Mexican inmate named Cacho, whose ties to a Mexican Drug Cartel give them the resources to make a prison break. After the breakout in which three deaths occur—Axel and Cacho become the objects of a massive manhunt on both sides of the border in this propulsive and exhilarating novel. But that’s just the beginning of this thrilling crime fiction yarn from the pen of a master. Read it for yourself and see why I never miss a new work from one of the smoothest and most interesting of all contemporary crime fiction writers.