A World of Thieves

Blake, James Carlos

Published by Morrow, 2002
ISBN 10: 0380977508 / ISBN 13: 9780380977505
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First Edition (first printing). A novel by the author of IN THE ROGUE BLOOD, the story ofa young man who becomes involved in several robberies during the Roaring Twenties. Fine/Fine. Signed by Blake on the title page. Bookseller Inventory #

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Synopsis:

James Carlos Blake writes literary novels of adventure -- of daring exploits and desperate hearts, of men and women whose characters shape their fate. Now, in A World of Thieves, he renders a story of crime and love in the closing years of the Roaring Twenties.

In 1928 New Orleans, eighteen-year-old Sonny LaSalle is a top prep student and champion amateur boxer -- and he venerates his fraternal twin uncles, Buck and Russell, armed robbers who love their profession. Sonny secretly believes that he, too, is a natural outlaw and persuades his uncles to take him on as a partner. Their early robberies go smoothly, and Sonny begins an affair with Brenda Marie, a rich and free-spirited art dealer in the French Quarter. But when a bank job goes bad, Sonny is sent to jail, where he unintentionally kills a policeman, the son of the most feared lawman in Louisiana who is widely known as "John Bones." After nine months in the infamous Angola penitentiary, Sonny makes a harrowing escape and reunites with Buck and Russell -- unaware that he is being hunted by the vengeful John Bones.

Sonny and his uncles head for the boomtowns of West Texas, where the money flows as freely as the oil. But after one of their robberies erupts in a gunfight, one uncle is badly wounded and the other is arrested and sentenced to a prison road gang. As Sonny sets out to free his imprisoned uncle, he finds himself caught between conflicting loyalties, and the story hurtles toward a thundering climax as the relentless John Bones catches up with Sonny at last.

A jazz-age story of vibrant joy and violent conflict, reckless passion, and an implacable nemesis, A World of Thieves is at heart the tale of a young man's reckoning with the truth of his own soul.

Review: Penzler Pick, December 2001: James Carlos Blake has written several novels, but this is the first that can be categorized wholeheartedly as a mystery. Set in the Southwest of 1928, it tells the story of three men who go on a journey of robbery and unintentional murder throughout Louisiana and Texas.

Sonny LaSalle is only a few years younger than his twin uncles, Russell and Buck, and he adores them and their way of life, which involves mostly robbing banks and rigging gambling scams. When he suggests that they take him on as a third partner, they indulge him and let him drive the getaway car on a bank robbery. Sonny is immediately caught and put in a holding cell where a fight breaks out. When Sonny hits a rookie cop who is trying to break up the fight, he inadvertently kills him and is sent to the infamous Angola prison in Louisiana for the long haul. But it's not in Sonny's nature to stay cooped up for long, and he soon escapes, doing what only a few have done before him: running along the levee to freedom and back to his uncles.

From then on, these charming felons career across the landscape stealing just enough money to keep them comfortable, meeting women, and helping damsels in distress. What these carefree villains do not know, but the reader does, is that the rookie cop's father, John Isley Bonham, is not going to simply let Sonny go free. Bonham is a longtime deputy sheriff near retirement. His life has been tragic, and the only joy he ever had was through his son. Bonham is said to have killed more men than any cop in the state. Although he's always claimed self- defense, rumor has it that some of the killings were, in fact, executions. Now he starts his slow, relentless campaign to hunt Sonny down and kill him. Russell, Buck, and Sonny do kill some innocent people, it's true, but compared to Bonham they are amateurs--and Bonham is closing in on them.

For fans of Daniel Woodrell, James Lee Burke, and Robbers, last year's exceptional first novel by Christopher Cook, this book is a must. --Otto Penzler

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Bibliographic Details

Title: A World of Thieves
Publisher: Morrow
Publication Date: 2002
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: Fine
Edition: 1st Edition.

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