Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Trailsman 396: DEAD MAN'S JOURNEY


Mojave Desert, California, 1858 - where it's open season on Skye Fargo in a hellish landscape littered with bleached bones.

Skye Fargo has spent weeks with the U.S. Army Camel Corps, trying to create a supply train across the Mojave Desert.  But after fighting Indians, bushwhackers, and nature itself, his deadliest foe appears: Pablo "the Scorpion" Alvarez.  And that savage killer will let no one, not even the Trailsman, survive his fury...


First things first: This book will make you hanker for a drink of cold water.

Aboard an expedition that is testing camels for military usage, Skye Fargo runs into treacherous villains, uptight Army command, and three willing women who want to use him and spit him out.  Just like Fargo likes it!

Aside from the action, which comes fast and thick in the book, I really have to mention the loss of water to our stalwart characters.  They vainly search the desert for a waterhole and always seem to come up empty-handed.  It's a testament to this book's author (whom I don't know) that they could get such an emotion out of this reader.  I could feel my throat growing parched with each turn of the page.

As I mentioned, there's plenty of action.  Ambushes, gunfights in eerie towns such as Doomed Domain, and constant danger shroud Skye Fargo as he attempts to get these camels across the desert.  There's no shortage of the red stuff.

And speaking of blood, there's a gripping passage where Skye torments and kills one of his intended assassins.  Shooting off pieces of the outlaw as he crawls across the baking desert sand, Skye forces his human prey to drink from a water hole that had previously been poisoned by the book's villain, Scorpion.  It's a tense scene and adds to the book's grimy touch.

With the body count growing, the author also injects a lot of humor via the characters Sergeant Grizz Bear and Private Jude.  It's not on the level of gallows humor that authors such as Terry (George G. Gilman) Harknett would use, but it does help to even out the amount of violence.

There's also the prerequisite amount of T&A in the book, though it's mostly "blink and you'll miss it" as it passes over in just a page or two.  The first X-rated passage, which sees Skye with a Mexican bombshell named Rosalinda, is interrupted by a camel and makes for a good laugh.  Skye's penchant for spying the pubic patches of nubile females is also present here, and keeps with the theme of the series.

The book rapidly moves to its conclusion as Skye not only takes out the villains, but finds the treacherous spy amongst the military ranks that has been shortening their water supply.  I have to admit that I didn't guess the guilty party, but it was still quite a revelation. 

The final pages show Skye getting over on bloodthirsty Indians in a queer game of poker before finally delivering the camels to their final destination.

Overall, this is a very good entry into the series.  It keeps you turning the pages until the very end and leaves you with nothing but satisfaction as the final page is reached. 

Easily recommended.

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Trailsman 397: RIVERBOAT RECKONING


1860, Louisiana, aboard the Creole Queen - where Skye Fargo only has days to avert massive slaughter in the region that's "half horse, half alligator."

Skye Fargo is working his way up and down the Mississippi River looking to stop a band of deadly river rats from destroying a valuable riverboat line.  But it won't be easy - because the truth behind the attacks leads to a conspiracy with more twists and turns than the mighty Mississippi itself...

There's plenty of murder and mystery on the mighty Mississippi as Skye Fargo starts to dig through an extortion plot that puts a dazzling riverboat on the brink of sinking to a watery death.

I was a bit hesitant to start reading this book, as the blurb didn't truly attract me, but after I began to wade through the chapters, I simply couldn't stop.  Whenever I did have to take a break, I found myself thinking about the book and desperately wanting to get back to it.  Yes, it's that good.

Action is as thick as thieves in this title as Skye is really put through the ringer.  If he's not hanging off a paddlewheel in a desperate attempt to save a young woman, he's marching through the swamps taking on alligators, ruffians, and a suffocating plot of quicksand.

The T&A, as expected, is displayed here.  Our two resident female leads, Stella and Libbie, give Skye the time of his life.  The sex is a bit risqué as Stella prefers to watch and easily talks Skye into doing a few things the French are most fond of.  The steamy action won't disappoint fans of adult oaters.

One thing I liked about this book is that early in the happenings, Skye is stymied when he realizes he doesn't know what the word "stigmatize" means.  I thought this added a much needed human element to the character as he survives quite a great deal in this tale with only a scratch to show for his efforts.  We all know our main character is going to save the day, and will live to see another adventure (well, until the series cancellation), so it was nice to see him have a bit of chink in his armor.

Unfortunately, I was able to guess the guilty parties before the end of the book.  I had my fingers crossed that I was wrong, and when Skye finally came upon those eager to sink the ship, I was a bit disappointed.  Did it hamper my reading enjoyment?  Absolutely not!  And I suppose I'm lying a little.  It was pretty cool to have guessed the mystery killers, but great detective I am not!

To end things, this book is highly recommended.  It has everything that a fan of Skye Fargo or adult oaters or both would want to read and you'll come away enjoying yourself.  Do yourself a favor and check into this book.  You won't be disappointed.





Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Trailsman 398: ARIZONA AMBUSHERS



1860, Arizona - where blood flows more freely than water, and death waits for the unwary.

Skye Fargo comes across a massacred army unit in the Arizona wild, and everyone immediately assumes it was the Apaches.  But when he investigates, he finds something even more frightening - a strange pack of feminine felons out for blood and money.  But he isn't about to let any of these wild women get away - not without the Trailsman putting them flat on their backs...

David Robbins is writing as Jon Sharpe for the series final outing, and as always, he delivers in spades!

There is plenty of action to be had in this story.  Cliffhanger endings keep you reading as the tensions mount, and by the time you've reached the end, you're left simply breathless.

Robbins does a great job of building his characters.  Skye Fargo is his usual self, but you'll also enjoy Geraldine, Ruby, Slits Throats (the half-breed Apache who lends a helping hand) and the women who make up the outlaw gang giving Fargo so much trouble.

This is an adult western, so you're expecting sex.  There are two X-rated passages, and both are over in the blink of an eye; lasting roughly 2-3 pages each.  Robbins is focusing more on characterization with this outing, even though he does bare skin.  Fans of adult oaters shouldn't be too disappointed in the T&A.

I'd also like to mention the ghoulish finale.  I won't give away any spoilers, but one character's death is rather tragic.  It was a surprise for me since there isn't that much graphic violence in a TRAILSMAN novel, and Robbins really pulled out all the stops to bring this particular character to their grisly end.

Since this is the final book in the series, just how does it end?  Does it go the same route as LONGARM and provide neat closure?  No.  But it does end on a cruel note that brought to mind the works of famed spaghetti western director Sergio Corbucci.  I had to chuckle at it, and I think you'll enjoy it, too.

So, is this book worth reading?  A resounding yes.  Robbins is his usual cool self and bids Skye Fargo a fond farewell.

Recommended.