From Library Journal
Forget Davy Crockett and the other "heroes" of the Alamo. Blake's (The Friends of Pancho Villa, Berkley, 1996) third novel offers a much bloodier and more terrible picture of the West than legends would have us believe. In 1845, Edward Little and his brother, John, flee their Florida home, leaving behind a missing sister and a mother driven insane by her drunken, abusive husband. Heading for the Mexican border towns, the brothers get separated in New Orleans. They each make their way to Texas, joining up with like-minded fellows out for adventure and Indian-killing. Edward and John end up on opposite sides when the United States declares war on Mexico; not even brotherly love can bridge the gap created by the Rio Grande in the 1840s. Episode after episode of unrelieved murder and mayhem as experienced by mostly inarticulate men make up this fast-moving, unromanticized Western. Recommended for public libraries.?Nancy Pearl, Washington Ctr. for the Book, Seattle
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
Blake (The Pistoleer, 1995, etc.) again demonstrates his talent for mingling historical fact with fiction, in the case here of the Mexican War and the antebellum frontier. Brothers John and Edward Little return to their remote north Florida farm from a search for their runaway sister only to find their father on a murderous rampage. The boys defend themselves and kill their father. Their mother, meanwhile, has fled. Left alone, the teenagers set out for Texas, but they become separated in New Orleans. John, who can't control his violent nature, kills a man and, to escape hanging, joins Zachary Taylor's Mexican Warbound army. Edward, in the meantime, also commits murder but flees to Texas and after several bloody adventures ends up in Mexico. He first joins a company of scalp-hunters, then takes up with a band of Mexican bandits who are ultimately impressed into US Service as the infamous Spy Company. For his part, John deserts the army and joins the St. Patrick's Brigade, composed of Americans (mostly Irishmen) fighting on the Mexican side. Shifting between the brothers' parallel stories, Blake offers a virtual encyclopedia of graphic violence. People are shot, clubbed, knifed, eviscerated, castrated, decapitated, impaled, flayed alive, hanged, scalped, dismembered, blown up, and immolated. And sexual perversions run the gamut from rape to sodomy to incest and necrophilia; only bestiality is omitted. Brutality and grotesque images are played out against invariably blood-red sunsets and dawns. Blake's assured prose, knowledge of history, and fast-paced story are definite pluses, but in its last third the complexities of the war and the redundancy of mind-numbing violence overwhelm the characters, finally rendering them rather absurd. (First printing of 25,000) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.