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Country of the Bad Wolfes (Wolfe Family Series #1)

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  330 Ratings  ·  54 Reviews
A page-turning epic about the making of a borderland crime family, Country of the Bad Wolfes will appeal both to aficionados of family sagas and to fans of hard-knuckled crime novels by the likes of Donald Pollack, Elmore Leonard, James Lee Burke and James Ellroy.

Basing the novel partly on his own ancestors, Blake presents the story of the Wolfe family — spanning three gen
Paperback, 368 pages
Published January 31st 2012 by Cinco Puntos Press (first published January 10th 2012)
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Oct 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
Wow. Well I am glad I stuck this one out. This is the story of the fictional Wolfe family. The Wolfe family has a very interesting history. They have such an interesting family line with so many stories to tell about each person that it threatened to bog down the entire book.

The story started out very slow, it seemed to falter in what type of story it was trying to tell. It was all over the place at first, it wasn't saying much of anything. Was it historical fiction? Was it a western? Well there
Feb 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I have read every book by this author. He writes books for guys. This book is "The Lonesome Dove" of Mexico in the late 19th, early 20th Century. I recommend reading a few of his earlier works first, especially "In the Rogue Blood" as this book continues the story of the Little brothers, although not as main characters. In all of James Carlos Blakes's books, themes of graphic but beautifully described violence and lawlessness prevail. He usually depicts prostitution as a normal male activity and ...more
Jul 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Part family saga, part wild west thriller, this is not your grandfather's Louis L'Amour western novel. James Carlos Blake tells the story of two sets of twins who move through time and focus on the events that define his family history. Born of the pirate, Roger Blake Wolfe, six months after he left their mother, Mary Parham, Samuel and Roger Wolfe have a wanderlust and need for fortune in their blood. Samuel ends up in Mexico, fighting in the Mexican War and Roger attends Dartmouth. Roger and S ...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
I read a little over half of this long, densely-written book. I wasn't looking forward to continuing, but I kept thinking I should finish because I'd invested so much time in it already. But I told myself I wasn't gonna do that this year. So, permission granted to let it go. It's not a bad book. He just tries to cover too much time and too many characters, such that none of it feels real and the characters are underdeveloped.
Feb 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-thrillers
Country of the Bad Wolfes – The Start of the Crime Family

The Country of the Bad Wolfes is the new book from James Carlos Blake that takes us through the build up of the Wolfes’ as the criminal masterminds from the borderlands of Mexico and America. The book is based in an area that is Blake’s usual territory of those borderlands and in some cases follows some of his genealogical lineage, if true is very interesting. We also discover that crime is in the blood of the family as the start of the li
Judy King
Sep 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I'm fascinated how Blake conveyed this story based on his own family in a way that allowed me (when I so dislike violence on TV or Movies) to root for these two sets of identical male twins who killed matter-of-factly and with great skill and prowess. It helped that they almost always had a valid (in their minds, and therefore in mine as well) reason and purpose for extinguishing the life of the people they killed. I'm left with thoughts -- does that strain of adventure and violence flow with th ...more
Feb 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
“What country more dear or defiant than that of our own blood?”

For an author of "reliably prolific" repute, Country of the Bad Wolfes was a long time coming for James Carlos Blake. It took seven years in total for it to see publication, two of which were spent on lengthy trips to Mexico in pursuit of research materials based on his own family history. The territory is personally and professionally resonant to the bi-cultural Blake whose previous novels tend to centre on characters drawn from his
David Stringer
Well, this turned into a slog of a read. This I understand is the first in the series by the author, James Carlos Blake, who it has to be said has done a good job here.

This is historical fiction, almost like no other, which follows generations of the Wolfe family. From pirate, to members of the US and Mexico army. And we follow the generations of family members through all the trials and tribulations. Good times and mainly more difficult and challenging times. Why like no other? Well not just be
John Mccormick
Jan 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a quite brilliant book.
An engrossing family saga starting in England in 1797 and progressing through to the 1910 Mexican revolution with plenty of action and adventure throughout.
The Author is very descriptive and there is a terrific atmosphere of time and place throughout this book almost like you are there, though maybe my previous experience and enjoyment of numerous western films set in and around this period helped with this.
There are a seemingly endless supply of characters some pl
Gill Chedgey
Feb 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Country of the Bad Wolfes - James Carlos Blake

When I picked this book up and looked at the cover I was ready to deride the writer for his poor knowledge of plurals!! Then I understood that ‘Wolfes’ was a name NOT the animals.
This was a hearty and substantial read but not a quick one. And I enjoyed it immensely. Whilst reading the opening pages I actually considered googling the Wolfe family because it read like an historical reference book!! I soon realised they are fictional.
This is an action
Martin Turner
Jan 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a real epic of a book and what a fantastic read it is too. A family saga covering several generations primarily in the 19th century, this skims over some events whilst the other more spectacular events are described in great detail. The events take place in the US and in Mexico, with quite a bit taking place in the border regions. Many of the Wolfe family operated outside of the law an it is the adventures that they get involved in that make it such a thrilling read. The edition of the b ...more
Stan Lanier
May 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This narrative of family saga, in the vein of Peter Matthiesen's trilogy, Killing Mr. Watson, Lost Man's River, and Bone by Bone, continues James Carlos Blake's attention to the intertwining of crime and violence and the dynamic of family and national histories. Never preachy or overly obvious, Blake's work reminds one of how foundational and inseparable the spilling of human blood appears to be in the quest for wealth and prosperity, particularly when set free from community-ordained government ...more
Kit Fox
Dec 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Another violent and expansive James Mitchner-ish family saga set against the backdrop of 19th and 20th century Mexico—and Texas. Maybe after spending his last few novels in the 1920s and '30s, Blake felt like returning to his earlier apocalyptic oater roots, and I'm glad he did. Fans of In the Rogue Blood may also be happy to see the reemergence of Edward Little; I know that at the end of that novel I was all, "Oh my gawd, what on earth could possibly happen to this wastrel next?" Well—and this ...more
Aug 06, 2012 rated it did not like it
I threw in the towel almost halfway through where Blake was still going on with a very longwinded backstory of the Wolfe family. He spent about 250 pages (nook) breaking down a family saga that could have been told in the first chapter, sadly i didnt have the patience to get to the main story because of his attempt at making a Falkneresque saga out of a backstory before we had a chance to get to the main story. Im a JCB fan too so i was very dissapointed.
Dec 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-read-2015
Yes and yes! This is a book worth finishing. As a reader called Mel said, it is so complex a family and the stories so varied and many that it can seem to bog down now and then but just when that seems to be happening a turn occurs that leads you on. In all, I found it one of the best books read for me in this 2015 list.
Aug 06, 2012 rated it liked it
I enjoyed it more than others I know, but had a lot of the same problems. It read less like an epic than the notes he took while researching his own genealogy (which is what inspired him to write it). And, unfortunately, it never gets to a story. It just tells us what happened to who, when, with little to no regard for flow, context, or narrative.

A real damn shame.
Apr 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Banditos, outlaws, outcasts, pirates!- and the women who love them. A sweeping multi-generation tale of Mexico and Texas. And oh, those Twins! I loved it.
Feb 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The Wolf brothers, their journey through life. Beautiful language and mesmerizing characters. .. East of Eden Lobos. Read it.
Jun 15, 2017 rated it liked it
I had the same problem with this one as I have had with other of Blake's books. I enjoy the historical milieu and the rough atmosphere, but I become very ambivalent about the leading male characters. They are often violent and charismatic at the same time. Other characters love and admire them. Does the author intend for his readers to feel the same way? I honestly think he is ambivalent himself. The word "bad" in the title tells us something about his intentions, but the words--and in the case ...more
Feb 26, 2012 rated it liked it
I’ve often wondered where dust jacket blurbs come from as they often seem gratuitous, something of a quid pro quo, a favor from one author or editor to another, but Luis Alberto Urrea’s blurb spoke the truth with his for ‘Country Of The Bad Wolfes’: “When James Carlos Blake roars out of the wasteland with a new masterpiece, you leap out of your seat in excitement. He is an American prose-here. Writers of the western inclination have been stealing him blind for years.” Similarly with Donald New L ...more
Book Review – Country of the Bad Wolfes

By James Carlos Blake

No Exit press

Country of the Bad Wolfes is one of those fictional works that seamlessly blends history, together with crime in a story that could come straight out of the history books. An alternative history book, one that looks at the hardships of life that many faced in the old west of America and on the Mexican borders between the late 1820’s and the 1910’s. It is not a light read, either in terms of subject matter, or length, but it
Jennifer Moville
Feb 05, 2015 rated it liked it
This is the story of generations of the Wolfe family-it gives a brief mention to a pirate and then starts properly with the birth of twin sons of Roger Blake Wolfe the pirate who were named John Roger and Samuel Blake and they grew up living with their mother and grandfather. When their mother died and left them with no other family they went their separate ways. John Roger to university and Samuel Blake to go to sea.However things don't go to plan and he murders a man, changes his name and join ...more
Andrew Crouch
Feb 18, 2015 rated it liked it
Country of the Bad Wolfes put me in mind of a train journey. As the train speeds through a rolling vista, looking out of the window, you have time to admire the beauty of the wide landscape rolling by, but has no opportunity to focus in on the singular landmarks that inhabit that landscape.

Blake's narrative whips by at an industrial speed; pages are turned at a similar speed, the plot is compelling. But the speed is at the detriment of the characterisation of the story's inhabitants. There are h
Jan 31, 2014 rated it liked it
Messy books aren't necessarily bad books, which is what this is. When you boil it down to its essential elements, this is a book about two generations of twins. The first pair could be real people - they have strengths and faults. The second pair, as many other GR reviewers have said, are too perfect to be believed. If you took every amazing athlete, every learned individual and extracted their best skills and them combined all those skills into two people, you'd have the second pair of twins. I ...more
Feb 27, 2015 rated it liked it
Country of the Bad Wolfes is the first installment of Wolfe trilogy, by James Carlos Blake. This epic family saga begins in the eighteenth century and spans to the twentieth century following the adventures of the blood thirsty Wolfe family and their rise to power. The novel is set in Mexico and America; I found the historical and social-economic tensions fascinating.
The novel focuses on two sets of twins, firstly on John Roger and Samuel Blacke. When their mother dies they break ties with eac
Feb 25, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is about the Wolfe family and is starts in America and progresses on to Mexico, and sweeps through three generations. It is full of history and description. The characters are wonderfully described. It was nice to see the characters develop. My particular favourite was Roger Blake Wolfe. I would like to hear more about him.

As I mentioned before the novel is packed full of history. You can tell the author has done his research. This helps you picture the scene.

The story begins with Roge
Paula Hebert
Jul 16, 2012 rated it liked it
I know just a little about the history of mexico, more now that I have read this story. twin brothers, born in new england, and seperated in young adulthood, one thinking his brother was killed in a storm at sea, the other running away from possible murder charges, find themselves living their lives in mexico, although each by seperate circumstances, and neither knowing the other is in the same country. that pretty much is the first few chapters. what ensues is their lives and their families his ...more
Robert Intriago
Jul 31, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: action, 2015
A fun book to read, full of action and historical facts about the Mexican people commencing with the Mexican-American war and forward. Another review mentioned that it was the Mexican version of “Lonesome Dove” and in part it is true. The author creates a fictional family, the Wolfes, that through all kinds of events ends up living in Mexico even though they were born in America. The story of the family is not that unusual but the mingling of its story with the history of Mexico at the time is v ...more
Feb 19, 2015 rated it liked it
Recommended to Penelope by: Real Readers

A very long read which has taken me a lot longer than a book of this size would normally take to read. Very densely written and full of back history of the Wolfe family.
It was great idea for the writer to write up a story of his family and it works as a genealogical history but if looking for a fast paced crime thriller type book this will not be for you. However, this is just my view others may find it to just up their alley. I will give it a second read at some point when I have more time as a
Jun 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I knew I was gonna love this book! Mexico with all it's potential, great characters, lots of twins, romance, adventure, good luck, bad luck, Mexican War, South Texas, sharks, crocodiles, it's all there. Of course there's violence, because it was a violent time and place. And, some of the bits about the women....a little glossed over (where did all the great food come from anyway? someone had to cook it or buy it or grow it!). Anyway, great book. Give it a try. Especially if you live in Brownsvil ...more
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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
More about James Carlos Blake...

Other Books in the Series

Wolfe Family Series (4 books)
  • The Rules of Wolfe
  • The House of Wolfe: A Border Noir
  • The Ways of Wolfe

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“They loved the sea. They taught themselves to sail, to navigate and read the weather. Without their mother's knowledge and long before she thought them old enough to sail outside the harbor, they were piloting their catboat all the way to the Isles of Shoals. They were on the return leg of one such excursion when the fickle weather of early spring took an abrupt turn and the sky darkened and the sun vanished and the wind came squalling off the open sea. They were a half mile from the harbor when the storm overtook them. The rain struck in a slashing torrent and the swells hove them so high they felt they might be sent flying--then dropped them into troughs so deep they could see nothing but walls of water the color of iron. They feared the sail would be ripped away. Samuel Thomas wrestled the tiller and John Roger bailed in a frenzy and both were wide-eyed with euphoric terror as time and again they were nearly capsized before at last making the harbor. When they got home and Mary Margaret saw their sodden state she scolded them for dunces and wondered aloud how they could do so well in their schooling when they didn't have sense enough to get out of the rain.” 3 likes
“Whenever he was unclear about some idea or emotion, uncertain in his perception of someone or vague about a memory, he sat to his journal and wrote as precisely as he could what he thought or felt or remembered, and thereby gave those thoughts and feelings and memories the solidity and authority of words recorded on a page. And by that simple act made of them his abiding truth.” 3 likes
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