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

4.16  ·  Rating Details ·  191 Ratings  ·  22 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
Paperback, 384 pages
Published July 25th 2000 by Harper Perennial (first published 1998)
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Jul 31, 2016 Léa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Red Grass River est une épopée fantastique au milieu de la Floride des années 20.

L'histoire de ce roman retrace avec brio la vie de John Ashley, célèbre bandit, braqueur de banque, bootlegger et hors-la-loi américain. Si celui-ci est surnommé le roi des Everglades, ce n'est pas pour rien. La vie de John Ashley et celle de sa famille sont inextricablement mêlées à cette région. C'est dans ces marécages que John va grandir, commettre son premier méfait, vendre l'alcool distillé par son père Joe ma
Oct 03, 2016 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"They say it's hardly another place in the world where you can look farther & see less. And all of it green of one shade or another except at sunrise & in the dying light of day when that great grass river goes so red it looks like it's on fire or stained with blood."

"Now the dry season was on them & the mosquitoes were scant. The night turned cool & clear & the stars did brighten. The dark sky seemed clear & the stars did brighten. The dark sky seemed powdered with stell
Mar 03, 2016 JustSomeGuy rated it liked it
My upstate NY library had to go out and get this book from Oklahoma State University to fulfill my request, and even though it was an older book, I could tell from the catalog card still within its pages, it looked as though only 3 other people had read it in all that time. I was surprised more people had not taken the opportunity to hear a yarn about a blood feud that spans decades with the Florida Everglades as its backdrop. I didn't find the book to be a masterpiece as some reviews glorified ...more
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
Jan 16, 2017 Nate rated it really liked it
A swamp noir epic spanning over a decade, Red Grass River begins with soon-to-be-famous bandit John Ashley navigating the Florida everglades (what Blake calls “the Devil’s Garden”) in search of a local Seminole man named DeSoto Tiger. Ashley only has trading with Tiger on his mind, but soon things turn violent, setting the tone for this bloody epic. Over the following years banks are robbed, rum is ran, and throats are cut aplenty. This novel kind of occupied the space and time between the tradi ...more
Sep 28, 2016 Bruce rated it really liked it
I liked the story. I tend to like tales with a bit of grit that don't end in kittens and rainbows. Kind of Bonnie and Close meet Hatfield and McCoy. I did get a bit tired of the constant battles.
Dan Downing
Jun 08, 2016 Dan Downing rated it really liked it
Blake brings raw power and masterful prose to one of his early tales of violent Romance and American history, this time in the early days of West Palm Beach and the south Florida boom times.

Blake fits a love story into an historical era, using real people and events to create a frame work which he fills with dashing villians, dastardly lawmen, a revenge motif, corrupt officials and a fine portratit of how Prohibition works (both then with booze and now with drugs). We become immesed in bank robb
Sep 06, 2012 Nick rated it liked it
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.
Rebekah Ricardo
Apr 16, 2012 Rebekah Ricardo rated it really liked it
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.
Jason Kobrin
Apr 22, 2014 Jason Kobrin rated it really liked it
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!
Kit Fox
Sep 14, 2012 Kit Fox rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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'.
Oct 03, 2010 Aric rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Oct 01, 2014 Micki rated it really liked it
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.
David Greene
Aug 07, 2013 David Greene rated it it was amazing
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!
Jan 13, 2010 Steve rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2010
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.
Feb 24, 2012 Janet rated it it was amazing
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.
Mar 28, 2008 Arlene rated it it was amazing
An American tale that takes place in the swamps of the Everglades. I enjoyed learning about this part of Florida.
Jul 30, 2008 Valerie rated it it was amazing
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.
Chris Dehaan
Jan 08, 2014 Chris Dehaan rated it liked it
Good book but must admit I have read others like this that I think are better.
Bill Ulland
Bill Ulland rated it it was amazing
Nov 25, 2014
John Herrity
John Herrity rated it it was amazing
Nov 27, 2012
Cjp4544 rated it liked it
Nov 02, 2016
Ben rated it it was amazing
Jul 07, 2008
Mikec rated it it was amazing
May 17, 2012
Jim Allan
Jim Allan rated it it was amazing
Mar 16, 2014
Robert Hunton
Robert Hunton rated it it was amazing
Feb 02, 2012
Larry rated it really liked it
Sep 13, 2009
Ann T Guthrie
Ann T Guthrie rated it it was amazing
Aug 24, 2014
David L May
David L May rated it it was amazing
Jan 13, 2015
Billy Donohoe
Billy Donohoe rated it it was amazing
Mar 14, 2016
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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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