Sunday, October 18, 2009
Fargo by John Benteen
Fargo is a character from the near-end of the wild western era, operating during the Mexican-American War, playing gun-runner or troubleshooter for whomever will pay him to do the dirty work.
Fargo (New York: Belmont Tower Books, 1971) is the first in this series. Hard-boiled, muscular, manly -- there's as much sentiment in these stories as Fargo has fat registering in his body mass index. Imagine Lee Marvin in a southern Texas-northern Mexican setting with a bandoleer of brass cartridges, bristling with arms like a rabid porcupine is prickly with barbs. Without using Lee Marvin's name, that's pretty much how the author -- Ben Haas, masked by the John Benteen pseudonym -- describes his anti-hero.
In this opening novel, Neal Fargo jumps right in on the Pancho Villa revolution, setting out to help some Yankees haul a pack-mule train of silver from their mine before the revolutionaries grab it. On the way, he encounters a sadistic Spanish land owner, some beautiful women, and some double-crossing Americans.
There's plenty of action, and the pace is quick, full of action. Reading this story is so manly you just want to build a fire and grill a steak and drink a beer with a tequila chaser while you turn the pages.