BANDOLERO by John Benteen
Bandolero starts out differently than a lot of Fargo books. (They’re tagged as Westerns, but since they take place in the early 1900s, I don’t see them as Westerns. Although the West was still getting settled during that time.) Neal Fargo is not only engaged in action, but he’s losing, something you don’t see much of in the series. He’s a man of action and usually accomplishes whatever he’s set out to do.
In this one, he goes from being a much-admired military man providing Pancho Villa’s soldiers with machine guns to ending up in front of a firing squad basically overnight. That’s new too. Of course, Fargo doesn’t get shot, because that would have made the book really short and disappointing. As it turns out, Pancho Villa has a whole new mission Fargo has to perform.
Since Mexico is in such turmoil and worldwide war looms in Europe, Villa hopes to send Fargo into the United States to lobby on his behalf. As it turns out, Germany and Japan are both trying to line up Mexican presidents to declare war on the United States to make sure America doesn’t join the international fracas when bullets start flying.
Fargo gets saddled with a mean-tempered, self-serving prostitute as well, and that unwanted partnership brings a lot of friction and double-crosses into play. Author John Benteen serves up his usual cocktail of action and history mixed solidly with adventure, and even throws in a villain who claims to be the “new, improved” Fargo.
I’ve read several other books in the series and enjoyed them, and I liked this one quite a lot too. It doesn’t pay to read the books too close together because Benteen has some stock pieces that tend to get repetitive (such as the ambidextrous abilities of the hero, the fact that his shotgun was given to him by Theodore Roosevelt, etc.), but spacing the out allows you to sit down with an old friend and catch up on the news.