- Lynne Against Lareno – Emma: #01 (26 February 1978) – #09 (29 April 1978)
- Art: Norman Lee
Lynne Frankin arrives in Lareno, a small town located just before the Mexican border, to visit her friend Kate Marlow. Kate moved to Lareno to set up a riding school, but when Lynne asks a taxi driver to take her to Kate’s school, he drives off saying there is no such place. The Sheriff and Mayor are also unwelcoming, and the mayor tells her, Kate died of a fever showing her a fresh grave with the markings still wet. The Sheriff, lets her stay in a cell for the night saying the hotel is full and that he will bring her to bus in the morning. But Lynne doesn’t believe their story and wants to stay and find out what happened to Kate even if the whole town is against her.
First she tries to talk to the town doctor but he is uncooperative and the Sheriff is always close by watching. Then she tries to hire a car so she can drive to the riding school, but is told none available. With no other option she decides to walk to Kate’s school, but a fake sign along the way leads her astray. She would be lost in the desert but luckily she figures out by how the sun is casting shadows, how to get back on to the road. She meets a young man, Mike, who is friendly until he finds out who she is, he drives off. She finds er way to Kate’s school which appears to be abandoned but then Sheriff Tully arrives and arrests her for trespassing. A secret friend gives her the bail money she needs through the cell window and the friend also helps by leaving her food, when no-one will sell her anything.
Lynne spies some residents trying to bury something on the outskirts of town until Sheriff Tully clears them off. They are having some worries but the Sheriff tells them to remember what happened to the last person who raised objections. She wonders if they are talking about Kate. Before she can investigate further she is caught again and this time locked in a hotel room. She sees some newcomers arrive and she is about to get their attention when she is stopped by Mike. She also sees Kate but Mike tells her that Kate is dead and who she saw was the Sheriff’s daughter. Thinking Mike is not going to help her she manages to find a way out from where she is being held. She tracks down the strangers she saw earlier and tells them her story, but they in turn says she knows too much and take her captive!
They take her to the riding school and Lynne gets more pieces of puzzle as they seem to think plane crashed there and are looking for something the Sheriff and Deputy arrive and arrest the men and Lynne. Mayor Novak is getting jumpy, talking about taking his share and leaving. Then Lynne sees the Mayor driving off and Deputy shooting after him. Mike tells Lynne to escape in the confusion. Lynne uses the opportunity to search where she last thought she saw Kate, she finds her asleep (possibly drugged) in a cellar, she is unable to rescue her as she is tracked down again. She comes across Mayor Novak’s car he has already been caught and there are men taking crate of gold ingots back to town, now Lynne knows what the town has been hiding. Lynne sees Mike, he helped er before but she doesn’t know if she can really trust him, she isn’t given a choice when more of the Sheriff’s men come after her and start shooting at her, she as to jump into his jeep to escape. It is the right choice as Mike has been secretly helping her. They make contact with state police and rescue Kate. The whole story comes out, a gang had committed a big robbery and were flying to Mexico when their plane crashed near Kate’s school, killing all the crew. The town decided to share out the gold, but Kate and Mike wouldn’t go along with it, which is why they locked up Kate, as Mike was a local they gave him the benefit of doubt that he wouldn’t turn them in. The strangers that arrived were part of the gang looking for the gold. After the police have finished their investigation, Lynne, Kate and Mike leave Lareno for good as there’s nothing left for them there anymore.
This must have been fun for Norman Lee to draw, having small American town in the desert, makes it a different backdrop to the frequent British locations. The isolation and unfamilar area, certainly ups to stakes for Lynne too. With seemingly the whole town against her and nowhere close by to go for help, she is left to fend for herself. She has the option of leaving, but shows her loyalty to her friend by sticking around through the hostilities to find out what happened. Lynne also shows herself as resourceful, like figuring out how to get out of desert or finding loose floorboard to escape through. The mystery is intriguing enough as well, the reader must wonder what the town is hiding and is Kate really dead. Along with that there is a lot of action and excitement, such as Lynne getting stuck in quicksand or getting shot at! When she finally goes to strangers for help it turns out they are worse than the people of Lareno!
There are some questions like why would Kate choose this place to start a riding school, doesn’t seem the most lucrative of places to set up a business and it is a long way from England. Also as Mike was person to raise objections initially it seems odd to let him guard Lynne. Sheriff Tully does seem to be running the show, as we do see others a bit nervous of the scheme, so it is interesting that he is not interested in doing a deal with the gang saying he doesn’t do deals with crooks, but considering what he has done to that point the has already crossed the line into unlawful behaviour, but maybe in is mind he has been able to justify his actions. It’s the only time we see him express any morals so we don’t get to develop that further, for most of the story he is just the main antagonist to deal with. The other towns people are unfriendly to Lynne but seem less confident than Sheriff Tully. Of course with so many people involved and everyone getting jumpy its inevitable that their downfall will come. It is an exciting journey along the way and again showed off the variety of stories the Emma comic started with.