BEN HAAS CHECKLIST

Writing as Quinn Reade

QUEST OF THE DARK LADY – Belmont B60-1067, 1969 PBO. Sword & Sorcery. Cover art by Jeff Jones.

A swordsman named Wulf and a sorcerer named Doctor Delius travel to the Far Eastern Lands in this sword & sorcery epic. As usual, Ben Haas was a step ahead of the curve: there are three equally adept adventurers on the quest instead of the usual duo: they travel with a heroic swordswoman named Reen.

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2nd printing – Belmont Tower BT 51101, nd. 16 pages of drawings. Different cover by Jeff Jones, this one re-used from the Belmont paperback THE QUEST OF KADJI by Lin Carter, which had recently been reprinted as BT 50297. Harry Shorten published books by Ben Haas under different names, including this one and John Benteen and Richard Meade

(not shown) UK PB: Paramount Books nn, nd. Uses same cover as the American 2nd printing.

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Writing as Jack Slade

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A HELL OF A WAY TO DIE: LASSITER #5 – Tower 43-219, PBO nd (1969).

The Lassiter series was created for Tower by the first Jack Slade, W.T. Ballard, who wrote the first four Lassiters. Ben wrote this for Lassiter publisher Harry Shorten, to convince Shorten he could write Western series books. Shorten liked it, and the result was a new series called Fargo .

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2nd pr: BT 40142, 1972.

See Lassiter checklist for the complete series.

Writing as John Benteen

FARGO series by John Benteen and John W. Hardin

FARGO – Belmont B60-1056, 1969 PBO. The first book in the Fargo series.  The first set has a small “ Fargo head” icon in the upper right corner.

Soldier of fortune Neal Fargo accepts a job to bring a fortune in silver – and a beautiful woman – back from a mine in revolution-torn Mexico

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2nd pr: Belmont B75-2135, 1971.

(Note: there are MANY foreign editions of John Benteen’s books. This checklist covers American paperbacks only.)

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3rd pr: Belmont Tower BT 50526, 1973. “ Fargo Is His Name – Violence Is His Game” logo.

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4th pr: BT 50861, nd. Incorrectly gives copyright date as 1971.


5th pr: BT 51481, nd (around 1980). First in the Uniform Edition reprints with new covers by LaPorte.

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PANAMA GOLD: FARGO #2 – Belmont B60-1058, 1969 PBO.

Fargo ’s Rough Rider commander “The Colonel” (Theodore Roosevelt) sends Fargo to Panama to single-handedly stop a war that will prevent the completion of the Panama Canal .

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2nd pr: Belmont B75-2136, 1971.

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Unibook variant: Unibook nn, nd.

Several of the early Fargo books have a Unibook version from Modern Promotions in New York . Although I’ve never seen it, there must be a Unibook edition of Fargo #1.


3rd pr: BT 50533, 1973.  

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4th pr: BT 51482, nd. #2 in the Uniform edition.

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ALASKA STEEL: FARGO #3 - Belmont B60-1068, 1969 PBO.

Fargo escorts an early Hollywood silent movie actress into the gold fields of frozen Alaska .

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2nd pr: Belmont B75-2137, 1971.


3rd pr: BT 50550, 1973.

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4th pr: Tower 51502, nd. #3 in the Uniform Edition. 

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MASSACRE RIVER : FARGO #4 – Belmont B60-1078, 1970 PBO.

Ex-soldier Fargo returns to the Philippines to fight a war in the jungles.

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2nd pr: Belmont B75-2138, 1971.


3rd pr: BT 50557, 1973.

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4th pr: Tower 51521, nd. #4 in the Uniform Edition.

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THE WILDCATTERS: Fargo #5 – Belmont B60-1084, 1970 PBO. 

Fargo hires on as a one-man army running security for an East Texas oil field.

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2nd pr: Belmont B75-2184, 1971.


3rd pr: BT50583, 1973. 

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4th pr: Tower 51542, nd. #5 in the Uniform Edition.         

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APACHE RAIDERS: FARGO #6 – Belmont B60-2004, 1970 PBO.

Running guns into Mexico , Fargo crosses the last of the renegade Apaches.

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2nd pr: Belmont B75-2185, 1971.


3rd pr: BT 50596, 1973.

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4th pr: Tower 51562, nd. #6 in the Uniform Edition.

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WOLF’S HEAD: FARGO #7 – Belmont B75-2028, 1970 PBO.

Fargo is hired to stop the sabotage at an Oregon timber camp. An action-packed thriller filled with logging lore.

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2nd pr, Belmont B75-2173, nd (1971).

  See also Fargo #15 below.


VALLEY OF SKULLS : FARGO #8 – Belmont B75-2057, 1970 PBO. Cover art by John Duillo.

Archeologists digging at a Mayan temple find a solid gold Spanish cannon, but are trapped when the Mexican Revolution breaks out. Fargo is hired to bring them out alive. 

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2nd pr: BT 50249, 1972.

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3rd pr: Tower 51803, nd. #8 in the Uniform Edition. Due to editorial ineptitude, there is no #7 in the set. Re-uses John Duillo cover art from the first edition.


THE SHARPSHOOTERS: Fargo #9 – Belmont B75-2074, 1970 PBO.

Fargo gets caught running guns to Pancho Villa, and the Texas Rangers give him his choice: get the Canfield clan or go to jail. The Canfields, from the author’s home state of North Carolina , are a spirited bunch of moonshiners and mountain men.

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2nd pr: BT 50263, 1972.

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THE BLACK BULLS: FARGO #10 – Belmont B75-2094, 1971 PBO.

A rancher sends Fargo to Argentina to rescue his daughter – and his prize black bulls – from the gauchos of Rio Carmen.

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2nd pr: BT 40129, 1972.


PHANTOM GUNMAN: FARGO #11 –

Belmont B75-2111, 1971 PBO.

Fargo is asked to chase down a rumor that Billy the Kid is still alive in New Mexico .

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2nd pr: BT 50278, 1972.

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KILLING SPREE : FARGO #12 – Belmont B75-2119, 1971 PBO. This is the last of the first editions to feature the “ Fargo head” icon.

Fargo chases a gang of gold thieves across the Mojave Desert , killing them one by one.

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2nd pr: BT 50285, 1972.


SHOTGUN MAN: FARGO #13 – BT 50606, 1973 PBO. By 1973, Belmont Tower had reprinted the first six books in the “Fargo is His Name – Violence is His Game” series, so SHOTGUN MAN appears as a new #13 in that series.

Re-uses cover art from FARGO #1.

Theodore Roosevelt enlists Fargo – and his sawed-off Fox shotgun, Winchester , .38 Colt revolver and ten-inch Batangas knife - to escort a group of explorers through outlaw country to map the Colorado River .  

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2nd pr: BT 51155, nd.

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BANDOLERO: FARGO #14 – BT 50621, 1973 PBO.  Cover re-uses John Duillo’s VALLEY OF SKULLS art.

Fargo is running guns to Pancho Villa when all hell breaks loose on the morning of March 9, 1916 in Columbus , New Mexico .

The original manuscript for this book, which Ben called FARGO 14: FIRING SQUAD, is now held in the collection of the National Outlaw & Lawman Association at the American Heritage Center in Laramie , Wyoming .

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2nd pr: BT 51144 , ND .


WOLF’S HEAD: FARGO #15 – BT 50627, 1973.

The next two books in the Fargo series were to be a reprint of WOLF’S HEAD, FARGO #7; and the new FARGO #15, SIERRA SILVER.  Instead, somebody at Belmont Tower put #15 on the WOLF’S HEAD reprint by mistake, damning countless fans and booksellers to years of confusion on the numbering of these books. To this day there are still disagreements about whether there are 23 or 24 books in the Fargo series.

Another result of the confusion is there are no more reprints of WOLF’S HEAD, and when Tower did the Uniform Edition reprints a decade later, the numbers go from 1 to 6 to then skip to 8.  

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SIERRA SILVER: FARGO #16 – BT 50680, 1973 PBO. By John W. Hardin.

With #15 assigned to the wrong book, Belmont Tower then puts “#16” on the 15th book. The rest of the books are therefore misnumbered. A later checklist (shown below) correctly lists SIERRA SILVER as #15 in the series.

The first of three consecutive Fargos by “John W. Hardin”, who is not Ben Haas, SIERRA SILVER finds Fargo in Mexico fighting banditos at a silver mine.

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DYNAMITE FEVER: FARGO #17 – BT 50712, 1974 PBO. Cover lists author as John Benteen, but the title page says John W. Hardin. Hardin’s style is unmistakable.

Fargo vs. the Kaiser’s German thugs in Peru .

This is actually #16. To avoid adding to the confusion, I will use the publisher’s (incorrect) numbering for the rest of the books. A corrected list then follows.

So who was John W. Hardin? One possibility is Norman Rubington, who wrote a Sundance as John W. Hardin in 1973. If Rubington is Hardin, the sophomoric sex scenes here may be a joke, a take-off on Western pulp writing. Rubington had written many more adult sex scenes under another pen name, Akbar Del Piombo.

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GRINGO GUNS: FARGO #18 – BT 50768, 1975 PBO. Actually #17. It may say John Benteen on it, maybe they noticed the Benteens sold better, but GRINGO GUNS is without question the work of “John W. Hardin”, as any Fargo fan will tell you.

Benteen’s Fargo and Hardin’s Fargo are practically two different men.  The Hardin stories are good; they’re just not as good as the Benteen stories.    

Fargo runs guns to the Nicaraguan Army in this adventure.


HELL ON WHEELS: FARGO #19 – BT 50889, 1976 PBO.  Extremely scarce.

(Copyright was renewed in 1981 by Mrs. Douglas Haas.)

Perhaps realizing the Fargo books were being issued with the wrong numbers on them, the publisher puts no number on the last six books in the series.

Fargo fans were delighted to have the real John Benteen back with this one. It’s easy to tell the difference as “John W. Hardin” has no interest in weaponry (he calls Fargo’s beloved shotgun “the gun”) and John Benteen is fascinated with weapons: “He caressed it gently, as he might have stroked the body of a woman, and his gray eyes gleamed as one big forefinger traced out the inscription worked into the breech engraving: To Neal Fargo, gratefully, T.R.”

A besieged mine operator hires Fargo to bring out the ore by railroad.

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THE BORDER JUMPERS: FARGO #20 -BT 50899, 1976 PBO.  Ben’s son Joel Haas has told us he wrote this one for his father, who had given him a crash course on How to Write a Western Pulp Novel.

The cattle ranchers of South Texas hire Fargo to stop cattle rustlers coming from south of the border in this action-packed adventure.

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DEATH VALLEY GOLD: FARGO #21 - BT 50928, 1976 PBO. Ghostwritten by Joel Haas, edited by Ben Haas. Scarce.

A half-crazed old prospector hires Fargo to escort his daughter to his “Castle” in Death Valley .

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KILLER’S MOON: FARGO #22 – BT 50970, 1976 PBO.  Copyright by John Benteen.

Running Springfield rifles to Pancho Villa, Fargo gets tangled up with Lola, who has half a million in stolen money. The three outlaws who want that money are all specialists: a knife expert, a gunfighter and a brawler. Fargo maneuvers it so he can take them on one by one – the first with his knife, the second with his gun and the last with his fists.


FARGO AND THE TEXAS RANGERS: FARGO #23 - BT 51126, 1977 PBO. Copyright by Ben Haas.

A corrupt Texas Ranger and a shady lawyer are stealing land owned by Americans of Mexican heritage. When they ask Pancho Villa for help, he sends Fargo . 

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DAKOTA BADLANDS : FARGO #24 - BT 51173, 1977 PBO.  Copyright by Ben Haas.

1918: In the Dakota territory , Fargo is buying horses for the US Army. A tough gang of rustlers want those horses, and only one tough man stands in their way.

“He was a big man, with wide shoulders, narrow hips, the long legs of a born and bred horseman. His hair was close-cropped and silver white, though he was only in his thirties. He had grown up hard and never looked back. He’d punched cattle, roughnecked in the oil fields – even fought in the prize rings. He joined up with Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders and found his true calling – combat.”   (Ben would always use that first sentence to describe Jim Sundance, too.)

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This checklist from one of the last reprints shows the corrected numbering and lists all 23 Fargo titles.

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THE TRAIL ENDS AT HELL – Belmont B60-2022, 1970 PBO.  Although some of the Fargo books list THE TRAIL ENDS AT HELL on the “other Fargo books” page between APACHE RAIDERS and WOLF’S HEAD, it is a stand-alone Western from the same author and publisher.

Trail boss Boyd Kilpatrick rides into trouble at the end of the trail in the Kansas railhead town of Gunsight .

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2nd pr: BT 50294, 1972.

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CUTLER – BT 50270, 1972 PBO.  After the success of the Fargo books, Benteen and Belmont tried to get lightning to strike twice with the Cutler series, but Ben only wrote two of them. One Fargo fan told me the difference was Fargo may be a son of a bitch, but he is a genuine and always reliable hero, a lovable son of a bitch, whereas Cutler is a drunken bum. Like Evan Hunter’s Matt Cordell, Cutler sobers up for each assignment and then goes back on the bottle. That wasn’t the stuff Western men’s adventure series readers wanted to keep buying.

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CUTLER #1: WOLF PACK – BT 50746, 1974. 2nd printing of CUTLER is retitled. 


THE GUNHAWKS – BT 50277, 1972 PBO. Title page says CUTLER number 2: THE GUNHAWKS.  John Cutler is a hunter who can hunt and kill any animal – or any man.

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CUTLER#2: THE GUNHAWKS – BT 50747, 1974. 2nd printing with new cover. In 1979 Tower tried to resurrect the Cutler series with four new books by H.V. Elkin, but it died again in 1980.

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Lynn Munroe Books