A World of Thieves


These two Prohibition-era tough-guy crime thrillers (this one and Under the Skin) are almost (but not quite) the continuation of the other, and there’s at least one set of characters who appear in both books. This one begins in 1920s Louisiana and tracks the trail of 18-year-old Sonny LaSalle and his two uncles (thieves and hold-up men both) into Texas, passing momentarily in Galveston, and ending up in the oil-drilling western side of the state.

As for Sonny, despite having parents who were decent people that died early, he takes after his uncles completely, adapting quickly to their life of crime, bullets, gun molls and high living. Both books are filled with rough-arm tactics of all sorts, broken arms and kneecaps, gouged eyes, slit throats, shotgun blasts to the chest, hilarious vulgar witticisms, and sexy dames with come-hither lust in their eyes. Crime is more than fun, as Sonny tells Belle in bed on page 197, there’s nothing like it. Then she shows him he’s wrong.

Jimmy’s life is also enhanced by a young girl he falls in love with at first sight, but their days together turn out to be severely numbered.

Blake is an artisan with the written word, and his prose simply sings with the joy and intoxication of life in Depression-era America. The wrong kind of life, it is true, and there’s little character development in either book, the greatest drawback of each. These are the stories of two naturally born killers, and they both end that way, in similar fashion, in beautifully choreographed finales, bloody and inevitable.



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