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Red Grass River: A Legend
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Red Grass River: A Legend

4.19 of 5 stars 4.19  ·  rating details  ·  129 ratings  ·  17 reviews
James Carlos Blake is a masterful chronicler of the restless, outcast, the lawless, and the lonelyheart. His previous novel, In the Rogue Blood, was awarded the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction. Now he has written a powerful and rousing historical saga of family loyalties, blood feuds, and betrayed friendships; of bank robberies and bootlegging; and of a passionate ...more
ebook, 384 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published 1998)
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Wordsmith
I always keep a mental running tally of my own Top 25 Best Books Ever-This one, "Red River Grass," by James Carlos Blake, ALWAYS stays in the mix. A brilliantly written book capturing a slice of life I was surprised to find fascinating. Gangsters? In the twenties? Hiding out and seeking refuge in their natural habitat, the untamed Florida Everglades? You betcha. Mr. Blake is THAT good. That's why he wins the awards. If you come across this book, don't be a fence sitter, do yourself a favor and d ...more
Micki
What a crazy-ass story filled with crazy-ass people!! The setting is the Everglades in the 1920s which is super creepy to begin with. One problem I had with the book was the frequent escaping from prison of the main character, John Ashley. Seems like the author had him imprisoned and escaping again just so the story could go on.
Susan
wonderful historical about early Florida and a fascinating family.
Rebekah Ricardo
Overall an interesting tale of outlaws and the wild ways of life in Florida. I learned quite a bit and enjoyed the plot, but did feel that the book was about 100 pages too long. It seemed to be dragged out a bit in certain spots, leaving me feeling both fatigued and anxious to get finished.

The ending was a bit anti-climatic, but then too, who really was the good guy in this story? Sometimes it was hard to tell, which I applaud the author for doing.
Nick
Same conflict I always have with Blake, and this is the third novel of his I have read. The books are absorbing and well-researched historical yarns, and I enjoy them. However, I find myself hating the characters and rooting for their demise. It is not clear to me the author wants me to feel this way. Some might say that he is trying for moral complexity, but I suspect that he secretly loves his outlaws and wants us to do so as well.
Jason Kobrin
What a great book! The only thing stopping me from giving 5 stars were the overwhelming amount of grammatical errors. The slang is not what I am referring to. Rather, having quotes in places that aren't dialogue, typos ("so" instead of "do", for example). The typos were just constant and caused me to reread a lot of sentences. But the story is just awesome!
Steve
This is a bloody violent novel that grabs you by the throat and doesn't let go. It isn't often that I find such a brutal novel that is nonetheless compelling and is not difficult to read -- burns a bit going down, like whiskey. Set in Florida in the early part of last century, this book tells the story of a hardscrabble family and an obsessed sheriff. Great read.
Kit Fox
Another crusty, scummy, violent yarn about down and dirty and dastardly men and the down and dirty and dastardly deeds they done did. A true inheritor to the tradition of Elmore Leonard, Blake's characters make Maximum Bob look like a monk at a Carthusian monastery in comparison. Loads of killin', moonshinin', and good old-fashioned swamp people blood feudin'.
Aric
Was very good. I chose this author because I was told he is very similar to Cormac McCarthy, which he is. The book itself ended up having too many charachters which ended up ruining stopping me from loving it, but overall it was very enjoyable. This was the first one I read from James Carlos Blake and I'm looking forward to reading more.
David Greene
A masterpiece. Southern gothic lit with prose that will knock the breath out of you. So intense, I inadvertently ripped some of the pages out of the book while reading it. Blake is an unsung national treasure. Along with William Gay, Joe R. Lansdale, Donald Ray Pollock . . . these folks need to be really DISCOVERED!
Chris Dehaan
Good book but must admit I have read others like this that I think are better.
Janet
Great smuggler story set in the 1920s in the Florida Everglades. Was always smuggler country and still is, and James Carlos Blake is an amazing writer. I think of him in the same mental breath as McGuane and McMurtry, Steinbeck. This book deserves a wider readership.
Valerie
Jul 30, 2008 Valerie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who loves historical fiction
Shelves: favorites
Learn history from reading fiction. This is a wildly good read. Grim, violent, dark--and based on a true happening. Blake is a genius.
Arlene
An American tale that takes place in the swamps of the Everglades. I enjoyed learning about this part of Florida.
Eric Jennings
This is an original and epic tale. The language is stunningly evocative.
Karla Rutherford
It's a snapshot of the early days in Florida. Acurate.
Michelle
A great read!
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James Carlos Blake is one of the America's most highly regarded living authors of historical crime fiction. Born in Mexico, his family moved regularly when he was a child, living in various towns along the border and coast before finally settling in Texas when he was six. After a stint in the army, Blake attended the University of South Florida and received a Master's degree from Bowling Green Sta ...more
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“If the devil ever raised a garden, the Everglades was it.” 3 likes
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