Trailsman #44 The Scorpion Trail will certainly not disappoint fans of the long running Trailsman series or any other western fans for that matter. Its quite long for an "adult" western title and our hero Skye Fargo finds himself in many difficult situations to put it mildly.
Fargo finds himself attempting to figure out how and why a valuable shipment of freshly minted silver coins was hijacked. Things are complicated by the incredibly remote and water poor Arizona back country that Fargo must traverse to complete his quest. He has also run afoul of a ruthless outlaw gang led by the low down and mean Carswell clan of hardcore back shooters. As if that wasn't enough, there is also a gnarly band of Apaches looking to kill any white man they can find, a wild and wooly(but sexy) half breed woman named Topaz, and a mysterious near-forgotten tribe of highly civilized Indians that even the Apaches are scared of. And of course there is the usual assemblage of natural dangers Fargo must cope with such as hordes of deadly scorpions, dens of rattlesnakes, and the ever present threat of dying of thirst. Whew!
In addition to the flaming hot Topaz that Fargo steals away first from the Carswell clan and later from Topaz's brutal Apache husband, there is a overheated hotel clerk named Emma that likes to assist hunky customers like Fargo by pouring their baths while she is in her birthday suit. As if that wasn't enough female trouble for our hero he also gets rescued from sure death by a cultured desert dweller named Carlotta who also likes what she finds in the Trailsman.
As it turns out the stolen silver shipment involves a very complicated group of players and scenarios that eventually Fargo figures out with some help from Carlotta. The silver is hidden somewhere deep underground and several interested parties are ready to shoot, lie, bushwhack, etc. until they get their hands on not only the silver but an additional horde of magnificent treasures that only a few select guardians are privy to.
Along the way Skye Fargo stops a lynching, stops a rape, nearly dies in the desert, gets trapped in a snake pit, beds down with three different women, shoots it out with apaches and outlaws, finds the body of a man he had hoped would reveal secrets about the deaths of Fargo's family, kills a mean apache warrior, shoots and eats a raw jackrabbit, discovers the truth about the Papago Indians, endures an Apache raid on a settlement, concocts a plan to save some good Indians, conducts a one man raid on an Apache camp, and also gets a very, very hot, sexy bath. Hey, all in a day's work.
The Scorpion Trails has more action, more twists and turns, and more flat out excitement than just about any other book a happy reader will have the darn good fortune to run across.
This novel was written by master writer, the late Jon Messmann, the creator of the Trailsman series. The prose flows like a beautiful mountain stream. The story has elements from the great pulp era of the early twentieth century. Overall, its just a mighty entertaining read pardners. I really don't see how any fan of westerns, especially the adult westerns could not enjoy this fine adventure novel. Not only is it one of the best westerns I have ever read its one of he best novels I have read...period. Even amongst many good reads from this terrific series, Scorpion Trail stands out like an Indian smoke signal pilgrim.
Highly recommended......get a copy! Many of these old Trailsman books are available on the web and they pop up all the time at Goodwill, thrift shops, library sales, etc. If you can't find this one, give another one a try. If you like gritty action, adventure, and mystery with a little sex thrown in, you can't miss with this series. There are a few weak episodes but the overall quality and consistency that the Trailsman maintains is quite remarkable. David Robbins and James Reasoner are some of the fine writers that have continued the novels. Even fans of Conan the Barbarian will like these books because Skye Fargo is essentially Conan goes west. Many of the writers are huge Howard fans and it shows. Messmann passed away in 2004 after a long and productive career. It's a shame this guy isn't a household name but he wrote mostly under pseudonyms as we see here. He also wrote many of the classic Nick Carter books, the Canyon O'Grady western series and a horde of Gothic romance novels using the names Claudette Nicole and Pamela Windsor among others.