RED GRASS RIVER by James Carlos Blake


A Legend
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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, John’s arrested by his nemesis, Sheriff Bobby Baker (the two became rivals long before, when John seduced Bobby’s 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-robbing—and 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)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-380-97493-2
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1998


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