The Rules of Wolfe: A Border Noir

James Carlos Blake. Grove/Atlantic/Mysterious, $24 (272p) ISBN 978-0-8021-2129-5

Set in the present day, Blake’s brilliant sequel to 2012’s Country of the Bad Wolfes—which chronicled the early history of the Wolfe family, a sprawling clan of gun-runners and outlaws who operate above and below the U.S./Mexico border—focuses on hotheaded Eddie Gato Wolfe. Eddie, who doesn’t agree with the family rule that requires him to finish college before becoming a full player in the Wolfes’ criminal enterprises, leaves Texas for Sonora to work security for La Navaja, a merciless cartel leader. Eddie soon falls for the beautiful Miranda, the mistress of El Segundo, La Navaja’s brother. When El Segundo discovers Eddie and Miranda in bed together early one morning, Eddie kills El Segundo barehanded. The young lovers go on the run in what becomes a flat-out chase thriller. While the basic setup is familiar, Blake’s masterful action-driven narrative and his revealing look at the ultraviolent Mexican drug trade rival the best of Don Winslow and Kem Nunn. Agent: Nat Sobel, Sobel-Weber Associates. (July)