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.

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