Red Grass River: A Legend

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9780380974931: Red Grass River: A Legend

A masterful chronicler of the violent, restless and outcast, James Carlos Blake now transports the reader to early twentieth century Florida with stunning and lyrical prose, as he spins a powerful and breathtaking saga of the Ashley clan, and, specifically, of young John Ashley, whose slaying of a drunken adversary forces him into a life of crime. Relentlessly pursued by a betrayed former friend-turned-lawman over the span of two decades, John goes from petty criminal to bank robber and rum runner, gaining a deserved reputation as Florida's most notorious outlaw and mastermind of a raucous gang of "swamp rats" foolish-brave enough to take on the Chicago Mob. Against the background of a wilderness in transition--as thieves and opportunists move in to rape a magnificent land in order to build the glittering dreams of Miami and Palm Beach--is the story of two sworn enemies on opposite sides of the law whose personal vendettas compel them to strike mercilessly at each other's weaknesses. In the end, nothing will be spared--including the singular passion of John Ashley's life: a love as feral and sensual as the Everglades itself.

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About the Author:

James Carlos Blake was born in Mexico and raised in Texas. A winner of the Quarterly West Novella Prize, he is the author of The Pistoleer and The Friends of Pancho Villa. He lives in southern Florida, where he teaches literature at Miami-Dade Community College.

From Kirkus Reviews:

Prohibition, bloodshed, rum-running, and gang wars by a master of historical detail and thunderous storytelling (In the Rogue Blood, 1997, etc.). The razor-edged sawgrass of the Everglades makes a wonderful setting for Blake as his hero, young John Ashley, soon to become a legendary bootlegger and killer, duly takes care of business. Young Ashley poles into the swamp to deliver homemade hooch to DeSoto Tiger, an Indian buddy, when drunken, bowler-hatted DeSoto draws his knife and gets shot thrice by the lad. Eventually, Johns arrested by his nemesis, Sheriff Bobby Baker (the two became rivals long before, when John seduced Bobbys girl)but he manages to escape. John disappears for two years, becoming a bouncer in a New Orleans whorehouse, then resurfaces, walking into Sheriff Baker's office with his father and a lawyer. Bobby taunts John that he'll hang, but John again wiggles loose. Prohibition arrives; the moonshine business blooms. John's arrested again during a bank robbery; Bobby Baker thumbs out one of his eyes; brown-eyed John, sporting one blue glass eye, escapes from a road gang, goes back to bank-robbingand comes up against the Chicago mob that tries to muscle in on his Florida territory. He also finds himself caught between his ever-loving young blind whore, Loretta May, and swamp-girl Laura Upthegrove. John is captured yet again, and yet again escapes lockup, this time with his Ashley Gang. Now Bobby Baker's feeling truly vengeful . . . . Sex and drawlin' dialogue that don't give a damn about real English, along with big whiffs of piney-fresh description, gusts of gunfire, and howling action like a night in a cathouse during a hurricane. (Author tour) -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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