James Carlos Blake is the author of nine novels. Among his literary honors are the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, Southwest Book Award, Quarterly West Novella Prize, and Chautauqua South Book Award. He lives in Arizona.
Once again Blake (Red Grass River) takes on a notorious historical figure and attempts to humanize a man whose reputation is synonymous with murder. William T. "Bloody Bill" Anderson emerged along the Kansas-Missouri border in the early years of the Civil War. A horse thief turned "bushwacker"Äthe nom de guerre of irregular Southern forces in the regionÄAnderson is driven from Kansas and persecuted by Union militia and "jayhawkers"ÄUnion irregularsÄuntil he forms a company and joins forces loosely led by the infamous Charles Quantrill, who, along with Anderson, George Todd and Arch Campbell, terrorized the Sni-a-Bar region of southern Missouri for nearly four years. Blake's depiction of Anderson is kinder than in other recently published novels (Desmond Barry's The Chivalry of Crime; Kevin McColley's The Other Side), which characterize him as one of the most feral and conscienceless men ever to ride across history. Here, Anderson is a Shakespeare-loving, poetry-spouting gentleman, sensitive to nature, kind to women and children. Only in the heat of battle does he exhibit sociopathic expertise in heinous and horrifying ways. The accidental death of his sister, Josephine, with whom Anderson is incestuously obsessed, spurs him to even more brutal acts of malice in the name of Southern glory. Blake's highly readable style is tempered by some gratuitously fustian vocabulary and literary insertions, catalogues of historical detail and somewhat overdone eloquence; thankfully, he eschews the more graphic depictions of violence that he has indulged in elsewhere. With slow, repetitive passages and historical license liberally taken, this epic is not as taut as In the Rogue Blood, but it is still a gritty, gripping adventure. (Aug.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
"One of the best and most original writers in America today."--"Milwaukee Journal Sentinel"Blake is a unique chronicler of hard lives in harder times."--"Rocky Mountain News"Ladies and gentlemen, the next Cormac McCarthy."-- "Texas Monthly""No one writes about blood and guts better than James Carlos Blake. He knows in his bones that violence is at the heart of our American history."-- "Washington Post Book World"