Showing posts with label Trailsman. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Trailsman. Show all posts

Monday, November 6, 2023

The Trailsman #87 - Brothel Bullets

Jon Messmann (1920-2004) created the popular Trailsman adult western series and the superior, but less successful, Canyon O’Grady series. In Trailsman #87 from 1989, Messmann brings these two heroes together for the first time in a battle against the white-slavery skin trade.

The paperback hits the ground running with Skye Fargo (The Trailsman) rescuing a teenage girl from a thug who snatched her off the trails to make her work as whore in Cactus Corners, Arizona. Fargo is a sex-positive kinda guy, but this forcible arrangement offends his sensibilities. The girl’s sister is being held at the brothel, and there’s a rich father who will pay to have his daughters returned. It’s hero time.

Recovering the girls is simple enough, but Fargo is re-hired to capture the human traffickers behind this kidnapping operation and deliver them to the father’s ranch for some frontier justice. Along the way, he teams up with a plucky woman whose best friend was kidnapped by the same crew.

Brothel Bullets was released in March 1989, three months before the first Canyon O’Grady novel. It’s clear that Messmann was hoping to hype the character in The Trailsman before rolling out the full O’Grady experience. O’Grady doesn’t make his appearance until page 122 of this 166 page paperback. It’s a brief team-up, and O’Grady doesn’t even get laid or discuss his day job as the President’s own secret agent. In fairness, O’Grady’s appearance isn’t mentioned on the book’s cover, description or inside blurb, so the publisher wasn’t overtly hyping this prequel. I suspect I’m probably the only reader mildly excited about this glimpse into the Jon Sharpe Extended Universe.

In any case, Brothel Bullets is a damn fine installment in The Trailsman series. There’s a solid mystery regarding exactly who is behind the sex trafficking operation and plenty of action sequences along the way. Because this is an adult western, there’s many hot sex scenes, if that’s your jam. The adult westerns tend to be fungible with little to distinguish one title from another, but this one is a standout among them. Read and enjoy.

Fun Fact: Canyon O’Grady and Skye Fargo team up again in Trailsman #100: Riverboat Gold from April 1990.

Buy a copy of this book HERE.

Monday, July 11, 2022

Paperback Warrior Podcast - Episode 97

On Episode 97, Eric and Tom collaborate for a comprehensive feature on Jon Messmann, the prolific author and creator of The Trailsman series, The Revenger, The Handyman, and numerous Nick Carter: Killmaster novels. Eric also reviews Messmann's stand-alone action-adventure novel, Bullet for the Bride. Tom reviews a vintage crime-fiction paperback called The Mob Says Murder by author Marvin Albert and Eric offers insight on his new projects with Brash Books and Cutting Edge. Listen on any podcast app, or download directly HERE.

Listen to "Episode 97: Jon Messmann" on Spreaker.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Paperback Warrior Podcast - Episode 75

On Episode 75 of the Paperback Warrior Podcast, the guys discuss Canyon O’Grady, Ledru Baker Jr., Able Team, Bagging Books, Longarm, Trailsman, Robert Randisi, and more! Listen on any podcast app or at, or download directly HERE:

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

The Trailsman #303 - Terror Trackdown

Journeyman David Robbins has authored over 200 novels under seven different pseudonyms. Along with horror and science-fiction works, Robbins created and wrote over 40 books in the 'Endworld' and 'Blade' post-apocalyptic series. As David Thompson, Robbins authored over 70 installments of the western series 'Wilderness' and eight frontier books under popular western writer Ralph Compton's name. My first experience with Robbins' work is his contribution to the massively successful 'The Trailsman' series under house name Jon Sharpe, specifically “Terror Trackdown”, released in 2007 as the 303rd novel of the series.

The book features “The Trailsman” Skye Fargo leading a small column of Army recruits through the northern Rockies in 1861. While the patrol features two experienced officers, the rest are all young baby-faced raw recruits with no formal training. Fargo has been hired as an Army scout to explore this portion of Montana in hopes of finding a suitable location to establish an Army outpost or fort. The opposition will be numerous Native American tribes that continue to resist the white man's invasion of the great Northwest.

Over the course of the westward trek, the crew begins experiencing mysterious events – bucking horses, missing gear and...murder. Once Fargo and the men meet Mountain Joe and his sexy daughter Prissy, the soldiers begin dying one by one. In the dense wilderness, Fargo must determine if the men are being killed by Native Americans or if there is a murderous traitor within the ranks. The investigation is saturated in blood and leads to an elevated level of violence for Fargo and the reader.

Aside from a short paragraph, I was surprised to find “Terror Trackdown” is devoid of any graphic sex. Fargo and Prissy do the obligatory nasty, but Robbins doesn't spend much time describing it. I'm sure dedicated series fans find this alarming, but I've never had a penchant for reading erotica. The substance is the story and Robbins delivers a superb narrative. The action extends from Montana into Minnesota and incorporates both the wilderness and a small farming community as locations.

While not quite a traditional western, Robbins' writing proves to be rather diverse. Without spoiling it for you, there's an early look at criminal profiling and serial killers, both a pleasant and welcomed surprise for a western yarn. Overall, this is another stirring installment for this wildly popular series. “Terror Trackdown” is worth tracking down.

Buy a copy of this book HERE

Monday, December 2, 2019

The Trailsman #01 - Seven Wagons West

Author Jon Messman had a very busy schedule in the 1970s. Authoring novels in the Hotline, Revenger, Handyman and Nick Carter: Killmaster series titles, Messman was a bright spot on the vigilante and espionage radar. It makes sense that by the time 1980 rolled around, the author was ready for a change of pace. Beginning with Seven Wagons West, Messman wrote a majority of the first 200 installments of The Trailsman adult western series for Signet using house name Jon Sharpe. Astonishingly, that was only half the series. The Trailsman ran through 397 novels from 1980 through 2014, the last half written by a rotating blend of authors. These books can be read in any order, but my first experience is the debut.

Seven Wagons West introduces readers to Skye Fargo, a gruff frontiersman who rides an unnamed horse, fires a Remington .44 the title suggests...escorts clients on the winding trails of the untamed west. The character's backstory is fairly simple. His father was a road agent for Wells Fargo. While young Skye was away on chores, his parents and kid brother were murdered by three bank robbers. Skye took “Fargo” as his last name as an ode to his father's profession. He now searches the Western Frontier for his family's killers while working his day job as a trailsman.

In this installment, Reverend Rogers and his wife Constance have learned of a silver mine in Wisconsin territory. They hire Fargo to guide the congregation on a month long journey through Sioux country. The goal is to establish a church in the wilderness and Fargo is being paid well – in women. On board the wagon train is a single babe named Julia, the reverend's sexy wife and third pickings, a weathered woman named Dulcy. It's an adult western series, so Fargo slips in a number of timely lays on the outskirts of campsites. Wagons ho!

In terms of gun action, which is primarily the second reason why anyone reads these things, Fargo tangles with a few bandits that attempt to rob the caravan. There's also a Sioux raiding party to contend with and of course, outlaws who are privy to the location of the silver mine. Fargo is established as an intelligent hero, often out-cunning enemies before firing a round. As a seasoned traveler, his skills are showcased in triumphant fashion.

Whether it's fixing busted axles, mending wounded horses or caring for neglected wives, Fargo proves to be the capable long-term paperback hero. Whether that remained fresh for nearly 400 books remains to be seen. But, based on the number of readers, books sold and the quality of writers, the story became a tremendously successful cookie cutter formula for the demanding publisher. As a series debut, Seven Wagons West doesn't move the needle in terms of originality or innovation, but it's thoroughly enjoyable and recommended for new fans of the series like myself.

Buy a copy of this book HERE

Monday, October 14, 2019

Paperback Warrior Podcast - Episode 15

Welcome to our western-themed episode of Paperback Warrior. Eric visits through Half-Price Books' flagship store in Dallas as well as a diverse local shop called Lucky Dog. Tom presents a feature on the Adult Western genre as well as a review for "Epitaph for a Tramp.” Eric covers the first installment of "The Trailsman" and hangs out with Paperback Warrior's number one fan. (Music by Bensound) Stream below or anywhere where quality podcasts are offered. Download directly at: LINK Listen to "Episode 15: Adult Westerns" on Spreaker.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

The Trailsman #205 - Mountain Mankillers

'The Trailsman' was a very long-running series (398 novels!), employing multiple authors writing under the house name Jon Sharpe. Almost inevitably, the level of quality varies from book to book, sometimes markedly. 

David Robbins was one of the better writers in the Trailsman stable, so I selected one of his books to read, since I’m already a big fan of his 'Wilderness' series. (He actually wrote more Trailsmans than Wilderness novels.) 

“Mountain Mankillers” is set in the Rockies, where a minor gold rush is underway and a bustling tent city has been established. Skye Fargo stops by, and is very soon caught up in violence and mystery. A number of miners have disappeared, including the father of two sexy sisters, and Fargo helps them out by investigating. It’s pretty clear that the town’s corrupt establishment has something to do with it all, but pulling the strings is an unknown Mr. Big. Who could it be?

Well, a modestly attentive reader won’t be kept in suspense very long, because Robbins telegraphs the identity of Mr. Big on page 130, leaving the remaining thirty-two pages of text a bit anti-climactic. That’s not to say the book is ruined. It’s still a notch or two above average, thanks partly to a couple of vividly violent sequences. One is a brutal beating on a very muddy street, and the other is a savage lashing by a bullwhip-wielding bad guy. Unfortunately for Fargo, he’s on the receiving end of both of these assaults, each of which is nearly fatal. But don’t feel too sorry for him, as he’s rewarded by the author with some mighty steamy interludes with the sexy sisters.

There’s actually a third sister too, a likable ten-year-old who befriends Fargo and is in turn watched over by him. Their scenes together are very charming, and help differentiate this character from the usual two-fisted, fast-on-the-draw western stereotype we’ve seen so many times before. (My inner casting director put Rory Calhoun in the role of Fargo, and that seemed to help bring the character to life too.) The author showed a welcome light touch in another way: Fargo keeps running into strangers who embarrass him with gushing praise for the exploits recounted in earlier novels!   

Anyway, there may be better Trailsman books out there (and there are), but you could do a lot worse than “Mountain Mankillers”.   

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Trailsman #256 - High Country Horror

This ‘Trailsman’ adventure, “High Country Horror” (James Reasoner as Jon Sharpe), starts out being a wilderness survival story, as Skye Fargo meets a wagon train of settlers in serious trouble. They’ve been deceived by their guide, who steered them into the mountains far from the Oregon Trail before robbing and abandoning them just as the first blizzard of winter arrives. These opening chapters are superb, and they were so promising that I was a little disappointed that the book soon changes course. 

Instead of a Donner Party drama of hunger and slow death, we find Fargo leading the settlers to the shelter of an abandoned fort, where the crooked guide re-appears with his well-armed outlaw gang and terrorizes them all over again, though Fargo does his best to help. Amid this action are interludes with a death-dealing Sasquatch-like figure known as the Lost River Lurker, who appears from time to time to attack people before mysteriously disappearing. 

These narrative pieces don’t necessarily fit together perfectly, but the author’s gifts for atmosphere and suspense make it all work. The story concludes with a strong confrontation scene and then, as if to place a cherry atop the sundae, there’s a surprise twist. But that twist didn’t make much sense to me. I won’t give anything away, but the revelation we get is a bit hard to believe. Sometimes a sundae doesn’t need a cherry, and I think the novel would have been better had it ended half a page sooner. But overall, this was a gripping novel and the Lurker really helps it stand apart from the roughly 400 other ‘Trailsman’ stories.