Review: Country of the Bad Wolfes

country-of-the-bad-wolfesThe book relates a 100-year family history, beginning with twin boys, their father a vague sort of pirate executed in Mexico, their mother a tavern owner. The boys, intelligent, adventurous, and educated, wander separately under different circumstances and for very different reasons from the New England of their birth to Mexico. Their families, unknown to each other, grow and shrink and prosper and suffer, intertwining with the tumultuous events and getting caught up in the endemic violence of late-19th century Mexico, ending up, a generation later, mostly together on the Texas/Mexico border.

The book reads like top-notch history — I mean that to be a high compliment — with the bonus of an author not afraid to speculate on a character’s thoughts or include dialog when doing so improves the story, but relying mostly on a cadenced narrative that follows every branch and always comes back to the main trail. Blake tells the story with little affect but with lots of detail, trusting the reader to manage the turbulence. There’s a matter-of-factness in the tone that reminded me of the Iliad, where acts of violence and cruelty as well as courage and honor are presented without comment, as just commonplace aspects of a dangerous, wonderful world.

I loved this book.

Country of the Bad Wolfes by
Cinco Puntos Press
January 2012
456 pages
(5 / 5 stars)
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