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July 23rd, 2012


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12:54 pm - The Trailsman: Six Gun Scholar

Premise: Skye Fargo, an essentially honorable western pioneer more comfortable in the wilds than the cities, gets into adult-oriented western adventures approximately twice a month

Story:  Skye Fargo, taking some time off in San Antonio, espies some ruffians planning to attack a young woman near the Alamo one night.  He defends her successfully, but the ruffians get away.  Turns out that she is a young schoolteacher, travelling from Philadelphia to the town of Bandera to take up a teaching post.  Fargo decides to accompany her there, to protect her if need be.   It eventually develops that, although the majority of citizens are looking forward to having a school, one town father is opposed.  Skye has his hands full defending the schoolteacher, and her school, from various and assorted attacks, and trying to find out, definitively, who is behind these attacks.

Positives:

  • Appealing characters:  I've never read any books in this series before, but Skye Fargo came across as an honorable and decent person who stands up for those who are vulnerable.
  • Although there are no profound character studies, most of the characters eventually reveal greater complexity than their initial appearance, including one character who initially appears to be a complete villain.
  • Very good pace -- the story never lagged.
  • Two "twists" -- there are plot developments which, although set-up sufficiently to be organic to the story still came as a surprise.
  • The action sequences are well handled.  I was able to follow who was doing what, when, and why.
Negatives:
  • Well, it is an adult western -- you have to expect one or two almost entirely gratuitous sex scenes.  However, even at that, they don't seriously impede the momentum of the story, and arise more or less organically out of the characters and their situation.

Assessment:  This isn't any great work of literature.  Your worldview will not be influenced, you will experience no great epiphanies.  But -- if what you are looking for is some rousing good storytelling that will provide some nice escapism, and won't insult your intelligence, this book fills the bill.  This is the first "Trailsman" book I've read.  I'm planning to read more.

Conclusion:  Recommended.


(9 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:dfordoom
Date:July 24th, 2012 03:47 am (UTC)
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I didn't know there were adult westerns!
[User Picture]
From:pulpfan
Date:July 24th, 2012 10:43 pm (UTC)
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Yes .... the most popular one seem to be Longarm, Slocum, The Gunsmith, and The Trailsman.

I have reviewed some Longarms and Gunsmiths in this blog.

Longarm, Slocum and Trailsman are written under a house name by different writers, and thus the quality had vary from volume to volume. I do, however, have a list of some of the books in all three of these series written by James Reasoner. His novels are always enjoyable.

"The Gunsmith" is written by one writer, Robert J. Randisi, and although somewhat formulaic, are consistently entertaining.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:July 24th, 2012 07:34 pm (UTC)
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I have read five in the Trailsman series (#10, 35, 132, 160 and 256) so far and enjoyed them all. I picked them up at the local thrift stores. My favorite was The Tornado Trail (#160) and earned an A+. The worse was Slave Hunter (#10) since the sex scenes were very badly written but the story was good and earned a B-. The other three books each received an A-. The Trailsman series belongs right up there with the Longarm, Slocum (my favorite), Edge and Gunsmith adult westerns.
[User Picture]
From:pulpfan
Date:July 24th, 2012 10:44 pm (UTC)
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I'll have to look for those Trailsman books, Anon. Thanks for the recommendation!
From:(Anonymous)
Date:July 30th, 2012 01:46 pm (UTC)
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If you wish to try a LONGARM novel that is well worth reading, pick up a copy of No.323, LONGARM AND THE SCARLET RIDER as by Tabor Evans (house name), in this case, James Reasoner.

A very good story, well paced and plotted. Young women are disappearing in Montana and Longarm is sent to find out why. It appears they may have been kidnapped and taken across the Canadian border, forced into work as prostitutes to service the railroad workers. Longarm is joined in the investigation by Constable Ryerson of the Mounted Police.

A review on Amazon bad-mouths this book for its historic liberties. (The RCMP had not yet been formed when the novel is suppose to take place.) I had no problem with it, and if one is reading this type of novel looking for a history lesson then you have problems.

My closing comments: “A damn good read.”


I would also highly recommend the following:


No.277, LONGARM AND THE YUKON QUEEN as by Tabor Evans, again by James Reasoner.
This novel was well plotted and I enjoyed it immensely. Longarm is on the trail of a witness wanted by the government to testify in a land fraud deal, travels to Alaska in pursuit of his quarry and helps a women run a riverboat up the river in a race against time.

Both of these novels are favorites of author Reasoner from among the nearly 50 he has written in the series.


Any number of highly talented authors known for their Westerns or mysteries have contributed to the Longarm, Slocum, Trailsman series over the years including Bill Crider, James Reasoner, Peter Brandvold, Stephen Mertz, Ed Gorman, Gary McCarthy, Robert Vardeman, Frank Roderus and Robert J. Randisi.

Currently David Robbins writes most of the Trailsman novels.

Martin Cruz Smith (Gorky Park) even wrote at least one Slocum early in his career.


Tom Roberts
Black Dog Books


[User Picture]
From:pulpfan
Date:July 15th, 2013 08:30 pm (UTC)
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Thanks for the recommendations!

I haven't read those two, yet, but I've read some other Reasoner Longarms, and quite enjoyed them.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:July 1st, 2013 03:18 am (UTC)
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I love every Trailsman book I ever read. But I agree with you that the gratuitous sex scenes are a negative. What reader actually wants that? Is it possible that this is a publisher's insistence to the authors, and yet the readers really don't need it?
[User Picture]
From:pulpfan
Date:July 15th, 2013 08:28 pm (UTC)
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Anonymous: I'm not sure if you are being sardonic or not.

I guess a lot of people like sex scenes in their westerns: otherwise, these series would not be so continuously popular.

But what annoys me is how *gratuitous* they are -- they neither advance the plot, nor deepen the characterization -- and thrown in too frequently, for too long a page count, they interrupt the *pace* of the storytelling.

That said, James Reasoner, in his Longarms handles it just about right: the scenes are in character, they aren't excessively long, there usually is some threat or risk that the protagonist is not aware of, which heightens suspense, and they have a pleasantly ribald tone.

That said, I've exchanges some email with Reasoner, and he tell me that a number of readers have told him that they just skip ahead when they get to those passages.
[User Picture]
From:pulpfan
Date:July 15th, 2013 08:31 pm (UTC)
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And Reasoner has told me that some publishers insist on a certain number of sex scenes; others just insist that there should be _some_ sex scenes.

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