Thursday, 5 August 2010

The Trailsman #345

as by Jon Sharpe
Signet, July 2010

South Pass, Wind River Range, 1859 – where a valley of death is littered with the skeletons of children, and Fargo discovers the only god around is Sam Colt.

When he’s hired to find some pioneers who seemingly vanished on their way west, Fargo comes across a vile encampment that may be the clue he needs. The camp is ruled with a blood-soaked fist by imperious Philly Denton and his crew of killers, and the Trailsman knows that if they’re the snakes that did the travellers in, he’ll have to take them out.

This entry into the long-running Trailsman series offers the reader many intriguing characters, some of who may not be who they say they are. There’s a man who calls himself a magician, another who claims he’s writing a book, a woman who many suspect isn’t who she says she is, and plenty of hired guns who’d like nothing better than to blow Fargo to hell.

The author also adds a couple of mystery plotlines that help hook the reader, such as where a box of jewels is, and what’s behind a nailed shut door – the latter providing a horrifying discovery.

The book is very fast moving, full of attempts on Fargo’s life by various methods and there are plenty of shoot-outs, beatings, whippings, and chases. Of course being a book in a so-called adult series there are the obligatory sex scenes too, but these are dealt with in only a few paragraphs, perhaps not covering more than four pages in total.

One thing I will add is that the author behind the pseudonym of Jon Sharpe, this time, definitely has his own style. His speech patterns and phrases are totally different from how the other writers working on the series have Fargo – and other characters – speaking, which make his books stand out from the other authors who also write Trailsman novels, as does having Fargo refer to the Ovaro as Old Campaigner or Old Warhorse. He also calls one of the characters with the same surname he uses in many of his books, in fact was the surname of the hero of a series he wrote during the 1990s if I’m right with my suspicions as to who wrote this book.

Whether it’s good or bad to have one author writing so differently to the others working on the same series I’ll leave for you to decide, what I will say is South Pass Snake Pit proved to be an entertaining read.


Craig Clarke said...

I did a little research, and this sounds like a John Edward Ames novel. Is the surname "Hanchon," from his Cheyenne series as Judd Cole?

Steve M said...

I'd go for Ames too. And yes Hanchon is the name. He often uses names from the main characters in his Cheyenne series in his other books.