A masterful chronicler of the violent, restless & outcast, James Carlos Blake now transports the reader to early twentieth century Florida with stunning & lyrical prose, as he spins a powerful & 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 & rum runner, gaining a deserved reputation as Florida's most notorious outlaw & 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 & opportunists move in to rape a magnificent land in order to build the glittering dreams of Miami & 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 & sensual as the Everglades itself.
"Blake, whose previous novel, In the Rogue Blood, won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction, proves again to be a master at detailing the life of the desperado. He now tells a story, set in the early 1900s, of a family of violent outcasts. The Ashley clan is busy pursuing a life of crime and hiding out in the dank Florida Everglades. Considered untouchable by local law enforcement officers because of their deadly reputation and because it is impossible to find them in the jungle-like islands of the Everglades, they soon earn the enmity of the local sheriff. After young John Ashley kills a man in a drunken fight, the family is relentlessly pursued by the sheriff. Blake tells of two decades in the life of this family as John Ashley evades capture and goes from petty criminal to bank robber and rum runner. An explosive climax occurs when Ashley gets mixed up with the Chicago Mob, which is secretly working with the sheriff. A great story: well written, fast paced, racy, enthralling, and full of surprises. Readers can't help but enjoy. --Kathleen Hughes"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"Evoking the primal extravagance of the vanished South Florida wilderness, L.A. Times Book Prize-winner Blake (In the Rogue Blood) offers up a spellbinding tale of an outlaw, the scion of a family gang, and his exploits in the first quarter of the century, narrated by an old man who knew the hero from an admiring distance. In 1911, delivering whiskey for his bootlegger father, 18-year-old John Ashley kills a drunken Indian in self-defense and is forced to become a fugitive, partly because of a romantic rivalry with the sheriff's son. After he flees to Texas, boredom, more than necessity, prods Ashley to rob a bank, and he returns to Florida flush with cash. In and out of jails and prison over a short span of years, young Ashley becomes Florida's most famous outlaw. Serving a 17-year sentence at the beginning of WWI, he escapes and resumes his exploits as a hard-drinking, whore-hopping rum runner and bank robber. Inevitably, he is dealt a long overdue, but not unwelcome, comeuppance when he falls head over heels in love with a beautiful swamp Amazon who is more than his match. This outlaw family saga is set against the infamous development and despoilation of the Everglades as papa Joe fights off the local law and the Chicago mob's invasion of the rich bootleg liquor market. Family loyalties, feral mysticism and the inexorable erosion of a way of life are grandly imagined in this vivid saga of a freewheeling past. Author tour. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
|| New York :Avon Books,1998
374 pages ; 25 cm
||0380974932 (hc.) :