Tuesday, 20 January 2009

The Trailsman #271

ST. LOUIS SINNERS
as by Jon Sharpe
Signet May 2004

Skye Fargo usually doesn’t take jobs he can’t do by himself. But when an old friend begs him to find a priceless ruby ring stolen by a passel of pint-size pilferers, Fargo hires a streetwise vagabond named Toby to infiltrate the gang and lead him to the cunning criminal who uses kids as his own personal thieves guild.

But this job isn’t going to be child’s play, and there’s nothing petty about the larceny this posse is pulling off. Soon Fargo realizes a lot more is at stake than one man’s heirloom. The Trailsman has to watch his step – and his pockets – if he doesn’t want to lose his shirt…and his life.

As it says on the back, “The Dickens it ain’t!” But the author must have been a fan, particularly of Oliver Twist.

There’s not as much gunplay as might be expected from a Trailsman book but that doesn’t matter in this case as St. Louis Sinners is a gripping story in which double-cross follows double-cross, as the story moves rapidly towards payoff, and Fargo begins to wonder if he’s supplied the very kid the criminal needs to pull off a much bigger crime than the one he’s trying to solve.

The writing style is to jump from one character to another, so Fargo is not in the story as much as usual. The double-cross plot(s) did have me wishing the book was longer so these twists could have been explored more.

But this excellent tale is marred by the authors portrayal of Skye Fargo. I don’t remember Fargo going around calling people “old chum” before. Fargo is also referred to as a bounty hunter – which he’s not. He’s a man who smokes – which he doesn’t. Worst of all, we are told Skye Fargo is the name his parents gave him! - You only have to read the character introduction, reproduced in all the books, to know this is not correct.

So, in conclusion, if you can forgive the author for failing to get Skye Fargo’s character right, this book provides a good entertaining read.

6 comments:

ARCHAVIST said...

See getting facts wrong in a series western would ruin the book for me.

Chap O'Keefe said...

Again, one of those cases which makes you wonder what series editors do these days, other than dance to tunes played by their companies' marketing "experts".

The first job I ever had, straight from school, was as an editorial assistant on the Sexton Blake detective series. One of the reasons I landed it was that, as a long-time reader, I knew the series and its characters inside out. The authors whose work I copy-edited on surely had a right to expect this, and for me to draw their attention to any mistake or inconsistency.

David Cranmer said...

I agree with Gary's comments. There have been certain series I stopped reading because I felt the author had little knowledge of the character I had been following for years. I’ve only read one Trailsman book so far, but I like how James R wrote the character in Seminole Showdown and he’s set the bar pretty high for me.

One another note, maybe Chap or Gary can answer this for me… how does one go about submitting a manuscript to an already established series like the Black Horse westerns, Longarm, or The Trailsman?

ARCHAVIST said...

David - with HALE send the first three chapters first with a brife synopsis -nothing too flash and they'll ask to see the rest. Email me for more info.

David Cranmer said...

Will do and Thanks!

Steve M said...

In three of the Big Four series there are a few books that don't quite get in right for me but I continue to read them as the majority of authors writing them do a good job.

The three I'm talking about is The Trailsman, Slocum and Longarm. I've left The Gunsmith out of this list a RJR writes them all and has done for many years.