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The Bones of Wolfe: A Border Noir


The Bones of Wolfe: A Border Noir

For several years, James Carlos Blake has been quietly building a contemporary border-noir mythos that has been excellent by even the strictest of standards. The foundation of the series has been the semi-fictitious Wolfe clan, whose family tree has straddled the border between Mexico and the United States and whose roots are sunk firmly and deeply in both countries.

It is made clear in each installment that the Wolfes are smugglers, running guns into Mexico and --- for the right price --- people out of Mexico. They also have a significant number of legitimate enterprises on both sides of the border whose primary, if not exclusive, function is to aid and abet their illegal businesses. It is but one mark of Blake’s immense talents to note that the Wolfes, unabashed outlaw activities notwithstanding, are the good guys in this series, a situation that continues with the newly published THE BONES OF WOLFE.

"I keep going back and rereading the previous books in this masterful series. I enjoy them more each time and give thanks that life would be so good as to give me another."

The book begins with a late-night sales transaction between two branches of the Wolfe family that subsequently goes very, very wrong when the goods are violently hijacked by a third party. Brothers Frank and Rudy Wolfe are tasked with figuring out who the interlopers are and where they can be found, in the hopes of recovering the stolen items and getting them to the ultimate purchasers. Frank and Rudy have the might and majesty of the Wolfe resources behind them and are on the trail of their targets in short order. The vignettes that comprise this particular section of the novel are worth the price of admission by themselves, but also set up a couple of plots that ripple through the remainder of the story.

The trajectory of their investigation intersects with the adult film industry, and from there improbably but realistically with Aunt Catalina, the ancient but spry matriarch of the Wolfe family whose word is treated as a command. One of the young women in a pornographic movie strongly resembles Catalina’s sister, who was violently separated from her at the beginning of the 20th century. She commands Frank and Rudy to locate the actress and bring her back to the compound to determine if she is descended from the Wolfe family bloodline. This is quite a tall order, given that many of the folks involved in the adult entertainment industry tend to keep a low profile.

Frank and Rudy follow an extremely slender evidentiary thread in a manner that would make Spenser proud, traversing hundreds of miles to find the performer. However, that’s only half the job. She is not exactly free to leave her current circumstances, thus requiring them to risk their lives --- as well as hers --- to fulfill their marching orders. It’s an edge-of-the-seat ride that will leave readers hurrying to the end.

Blake somehow keeps you cheering for the Wolfe family, who would be bad guys in any other context; here, though, they are the very best of a bad lot. I keep going back and rereading the previous books in this masterful series. I enjoy them more each time and give thanks that life would be so good as to give me another. Now you have the chance to enjoy THE BONES OF WOLFE as well.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on July 10, 2020

The Bones of Wolfe: A Border Noir
by James Carlos Blake

  • Publication Date: July 20, 2021
  • Genres: Fiction, Noir, Suspense, Thriller
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press
  • ISBN-10: 0802156959
  • ISBN-13: 9780802156952