Sunday, 19 March 2023


Number 178 of 436 plus 29 Giant Editions
By Tabor Evans
Cover art by Joe Lombardero
Jove Books, October 1993

Longarm has swept his share of hardcases off the face of the earth. But the quest for four missing archaeologists puts him in the way of cold-blooded murder in a pit at the very bottom of the world…

In a bottomless chamber somewhere below New Mexico territory lies a fortune in Spanish gold. Bushwhacked shortly after he jumps off the train, Longarm follows a trail of corpses to a glittering cache – only to find it’s a lot easier to fall into a treasure trap than to make his way out…

This was the first book in the Longarm series to be written by James Reasoner under the pseudonym of Tabor Evans and it was based on an outline given to James by series creator Lou Cameron. James turned this plot into a gripping read full of terrific characters, tense scenes, plenty of action, and some excellent twists and turns – especially as to where the gold is hidden. It was also great to see that James had included Longarm’s regular sayings, such as eating an apple one bite at a time, and his habit of using a matchstick to determine if someone had entered a room without permission. Sadly, these traits slowly disappeared as the series progressed and were only mentioned now and again.

Longarm is an adult western series so it contains explicit sex but these parts can be skipped if this kind of action isn’t to your taste. I suggest doing this as this Longarm story is a superb entry in the series that will keep you on the edge of your seat as Longarm struggles to piece together just what is going on and who is behind the disappearance of the archaeologists.

As this was James Reasoner’s first Longarm book it was also interesting to note that he’d either done his research on the series, or was a reader of the series before being commissioned to write for it, as he includes mention of previous Longarm assignments. For instance, there’s mention of when Longarm found himself involved with other archaeologists. He also portrays Longarm’s relationship with his boss, Billy Vail perfectly.

It's been a while since I read a Longarm book and this one really makes me want to read more, although they will have to be those written by other authors as I’ve now read all those penned by James Reasoner.


James Reasoner said...

I appreciate these kind words, Steve. Hard to believe it's been twenty years since I wrote this book! As you speculated, I was a long-time reader and fan of the Longarm series before I was ever asked to write one. I'd been reading the books for more than a decade at that point, so I knew the series pretty well. If you'll indulge me some reminiscing, when I got the job I was sitting in the restaurant in the Snow King Resort in Jackson, Wyoming, having dinner with my father and Gary Goldstein, who was the Western editor at Berkley at the time. This was in June 1992, at that year's Western Writers of America convention. The three of us had gone for a drive around Jackson Hole that afternoon and had dinner when we got back. During that meal, I commented to Gary, "You know, I've had a Longarm plot in my head for years now." He asked if I wanted to write one of the series. I followed the freelancer's credo and immediately responded, "I was born to write Longarm." My first two were based on outlines provided by Lou Cameron, and the plot I mentioned to Gary became my third book in the series, LONGARM AND THE MAN-EATERS. I wrote them, off and on, for the next 18 years and always had a wonderful time working on the series.

Steve M said...

Indulge away James, backstories to books are always fascinating to read. It's such as shame that the publisher decided to bring the series to an end.

Anonymous said...

James Reasoner: "Hard to believe it's been twenty years since I wrote this book!"

I'm afraid it's actually been THIRTY years.