cover image House of Wolfe: A Border Noir

House of Wolfe: A Border Noir

James Carlos Blake. Grove/Atlantic/Mysterious, $24 (256p) ISBN 978-0-8021-2246-

In Blake’s masterly third Border Noir (after 2013’s The Rules of Wolfe), a female member of the American branch of the Wolfe family (a large clan of outlaws who operate numerous legitimate businesses and deal in illegal arms on both sides of the U.S./Mexican border) finds herself in big trouble. In Mexico City, kidnappers led by El Galán, an up-and-coming gangster intent on making a name for himself, abduct college-age Jessie Juliet Wolfe, along with an entire 10-person wedding party, and demand payment of a $5 million ransom within 24 hours. With aid from Los Jaguaros, as the Mexican Blake family’s criminal network is known, Rudy Max Wolfe, a cousin of Jessie’s, and Charlie Fortune, another cousin, hope to slip into Mexico undetected and rescue Jessie, but of course everything goes to hell quickly. Blake convincingly portrays modern-day Mexico City as a beautiful and surreal landscape, and he lets the wealthy elite and the desperately poor share the stage, often with violent and tragic results. As always, the writing is both poetic and visceral, and the mostly present-tense narrative keeps the reader engaged as the action rushes toward a surprising and fully satisfying conclusion. Agent: Nat Sobel, Sobel Weber Associates. (Mar.)