Friday 9 November 2012

The Big Gamble

By Zeke Masters
Pocket Books, June 1980

As a wet-behind-the-ears kid, Faro Blake had learned every trick of the gambler’s trade from his father, A.B. Blake, the last, great survivor of the Natchez Cleanout.

Soon enough, whether his clever hands were closing around a gun, a deck of cards or a beautiful lady, Faro moved with a smooth grace that always put him on top and riding easy.

But now his father was dead – a victim of lynch-mob justice – and Faro was in a game he had to win…a game where deadly killers made the rules, where a warm and willing woman sweetened the pot, and vengeance – or death – would be the last, big prize.

The early 80’s saw a flood of adult westerns hit the shelves and the Faro Blake series was one of those. A new book was published every other month and this series reached 31 books. Not sure how many different authors wrote under the pseudonym of Zeke Masters but I believe just under a third of the series was written by Donald R. Bensen, and this one was one of those.

Like the first story in any series this one fills the reader in on Faro Blake’s background and also introduces two characters that will return in many of the books that follow; namely Nell Garvin and Doc Prentiss, the latter being a confidence man who aids Faro in his hours of need.

Faro only really has one aim in this story and that’s to get revenge for his father’s death, his intention being to kill the two men he holds responsible, but achieving this isn’t a straightforward as he hopes.

The story also contains some light-hearted moments as Faro aids a preacher to break the Commandments, which often results in comical outcomes. Why the preacher wants to do this you’ll have to find out for yourself.

My final thoughts on this book is that it proved to be an entertaining read that left me keen to read the next in the series sometime soon.

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