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.


Steve M said...

Does this book have any other past printing dates in it?

The reason I ask is that books that pre-date it if it was originally published in 1971, books carrying the publication date of 1969 and 1970 thus meaning it's not the first Fargo book. I've been trying to work the real order out for a while. The cover style shown here matches those that came much later which makes me wonder if it's a reprint.

Richard Prosch said...

I love this series. "John Benteen" was really Ben Haas (with one or two rare exceptions?) The first six Fargo books are:

Fargo, Panama Gold, Alaska Steel, Massacre River, The Wildcatters
Apache Raiders.

After that it gets kinda murky. I don't know how many there are total. On the web I saw a title called "Gringo Guns" that was listed as Fargo #18!

The first Sundance books by Haas are good too.

Evan Lewis said...

Never tried these, but I will. Thanks, Duane!
P.S. Hope you're comin' on back to OWLHOOT.

Duane Spurlock said...

To the best of my knowledge, this is the first Fargo novel. But James Reasoner or Bill Crider may know better than I do what the actual order is for this series.

Piccadilly Publishing said...

Piccadilly Publishing are reissuing the Fargo and Sundance series as eBooks across all formats.
Checkout for for further details.