Mysterious Press/Grove Atlantic, $24.00, 248 pages, ISBN 978-0-8021-2246-9
Today is an individual milestone with this, the 200th Mysterious Book Report, and I wanted it to be something special to commemorate the occasion. The selection is personal, one of my favorite novelist who’s influenced any number of other writers and readers with his unique ability to transform the tough grit and blood of violence into passages of inspired grace. In other words, he thinks like the devil and writes like an angel. His talent is epic, yet he is relatively unknown, although deserving of a wider audience . . . a much greater one in my opinion . . . because he is simply the best American writer of historical crime fiction and border noir to ever come along. His name is James Carlos Blake, born in Mexico, raised in Texas and now living in Arizona. His thirteenth novel, The House of Wolfe, is a fast-reading, entertaining and well-plotted romp through the slums and mansions of Mexico City in a rescue attempt that will leave you gasping for breath as you race to read the last page. It’s a perfect summer book. In it, ten members of a socialite wedding party are kidnapped and held for ransom by an ambitious young gang leader with aspirations of moving up to join a larger, more fearsome organization with an international presence. What he doesn’t realize however, is that one of the abducted bridesmaids is an American whose family is deeply involved in the gun running trade—and have been for over 100 years. They’re known as The House of Wolfe, of whom one-half live in Texas and one-half in Mexico. They live by their own set of rules, the foundation of which is the right of self-defense. As cousin Rudy Wolfe wryly observes, . . . there are certain natural rights that transcend statue law, and the foremost of them is the right to self-defense. Without the right to defend yourself—and the means to do it—all other supposed rights are so much hot air. He goes on to say that any law denying you the means to defend yourself is unjust, and therefore shouldn’t be complied with . . . even though noncompliance makes you by definition, a criminal.
Rudy continues, saying, If you’re content to trust the state to protect your law-abiding self in all situations, be our guest and best of luck. But if you want the means to defend your own ass, as is your natural right, then step right up and be our customer. We’re a tolerant, liberty-loving bunch, we Wolfes . . .
But woe unto he or she, you or they or them who threaten violence of any sort—real, or imagined or planned—against a member of the Wolfes, American or Mexican. If you’re a fan of action, adventure and hard-boiled crime drama you’ll love the Wolfes. If this is your introduction to author James Carlos Blake, you’re in for a ton of entertainment and enjoyment should you choose to read any of his other twelve novels. I have, and they’re all great!