The Bounty Hunters
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The Bounty Hunters

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3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  446 ratings  ·  48 reviews
The old Apache renegade Soldado Viejo is hiding out in Mexico, and the Arizona Department Adjutant has selected two men to hunt him down. One -- Dave Flynn -- knows war, the land, and the nature of his prey. The other is a kid lieutenant named Bowers. But there's a different kind of war happening in Soyopa. And if Flynn and his young associate choose the wrong allies -- an...more
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Published November 23rd 2010 by HarperAudio (first published 1953)
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David Williams
The Bounty Hunters was Elmore Leonard’s first novel. He had published a number of short stories in Western magazines before this. As a writer of westerns he was brilliant. The love of character is evident from this first novel.

The Bounty Hunters follows Dave Flynn, former cavalry officer turned scout as he leads a young lieutenant into Mexico on the trail of an Apache war chief. Along the way they encounter American scalp hunters who work for the local Mexican commander. Trouble with these scalp...more
Bobbie Darbyshire
I was so wowed by my first Elmore Leonard (“Swag”) in April that I decided I would read all of his books in order of publication. He wrote westerns before crime, and this, “The Bounty Hunters” (1953), was his first. Not a patch on “Swag”, but I wasn’t expecting it to be – I want to see Elmore Leonard’s development.

Hero, Dave Flynn, is sent by a US army baddie to bring back an Apache renegade who is hiding out in Mexico. There are too many threads and the choreography of the plot gets confusing,...more
Anastasia
My first experience with this author, and my first real experience with a Western-type novel as well. It took a while for me to get into it, especially with the odd style of writing. Or I guess really it's more of a formatting thing (I'm used to passages of character's thoughts being in italics to separate them from the narration, for example). But eventually I did get into the story and I enjoyed the ending, although I did feel that the denouement was particularly rushed. But I'll definitely gi...more
David
This is a solid first effort by Elmore Leonard, who is, of course, better known for his straight crime fiction. This one s a Western and it is pretty good. It reads like a book version of a Sergio Leone spaghetti western movie, with all of the gritty realism. It is definitely not along the lines of "Shane". There is a lot of blood shed in this one.

The book surrounds the activities of a band of scalp hunters, which is, interestingly, the same topic as Cormac McCarthy's, "Blood Meridian", a more...more
Matt Allen
I've read very little Elmore Leonard. Yeah, I know, that's on me.

Recently, I read Pronto, the first Raylan Givens novel, and saw what all the fuss was about. Leonard writes characters as much as he writes novels, and his dialogue is spot on. Spot. On.

So, my next journey with Leonard was to go back and see where it all began. Plus, I've always felt like I haven't read enough good westerns. Meaning I was primed to enjoy The Bounty Hunters. I wanted to. I was jazzed to.

But I didn't.

The dialogue...more
Rich P
Not Leonard's best

After the splendid characterizing and action of "Valdez is Coming" and a couple of Leonard's other western, I was rather surprised to find this novel rather rambling with some cardboard characters and very little suspense. The most interesting character is probably Lieutenant Duro, but he is one of the villains and really plays a negligible part in the story. Very much a disappointing read.
Georgia
This is not the typical book I read. It is a western set in border of Mexico and western US. I chose to read it because of the author. He has written many mysteries and westerns. He had recently passed away and I wanted to read something different.

If you like westerns I highly recommend it. It is well written and has a good story line.
Chris
I enjoyed reading The Bounty Hunters, though I must admit that I found parts of it a bit drawn out. I found the perspectives of the characters very foreign and thus intriguing, though a bit difficult to comprehend at times. Some elements of the story seemed a bit formulaic - the typical western with an outcast who is a badass, proving that the establishment is wrong, catching the bad guy and getting the girl. Yet, the journey to get through the formula was enjoyable.
Robert Grant
Not a bad tale in this story of bounty hunters on the trail of a Mexican bandit. Kind of feel like this story has been told many times before and then it comes to me that this book was published in 1953. It is a good first effort from this author and I will go on and read some of his other works for sure.

A pretty gritty book for the time it was published.

I would say 2.5 stars out of 5.
David
This one is billed as Leonard's first novel, and though it is a gritty western that gets the historical details and the proper flavor, etc. It still seems somehow lacking. Leonard refined his craft as he wrote and his stuff got better and better. This one is a fine example of a decent, but not great, western.

I think one of the problems with the novel is too many bad guys. There are the Indians, portrayed here as noble, but vicious savages, the overbearing cavalry officer, the commander of the ru...more
Brian
How nice that my first Elmore Leonard book was his first written novel. After not having read any fiction, much less anything, resembling his stuff lately, it was a wonderfully refreshing change of pace.

The crispness of dialogue and the economy of the action and set pieces stand out.
Martin
Having become more enamored with the man after having the priviledge of meeting him, I now want to read everything he's ever written. The only way to start is at the beginning with his first book. Know what's fascinating? It isn't a good book! There are too many characters whose motivations aren't made clear. The dialogue is inconsistent. Sometimes a person speaks high English, the next scene he's speaking Western slang. It's difficult to figure out what's going on half the time. However, you ca...more
Wendy
This was Elmore Leonard's first book. I enjoyed it. I didn't love it, and one of the main parts of the story didn't work for me until after I'd finished it and read some reviews on Amazon, which explained the plot piece I'd missed. Still, I think it's well-done and tightly written, with some real gems of dialogue and character description.
Kathy
If you're going to read an Elmore Leonard book, don't choose this one. It's not representative!

I found the characters to be stereotypical, the plot predictable and Leonard's trademark dialogue blunted. I still could get lost in his obscure syntax & undefined jargon, mind you, but without an edge of black humor it was, well..."okay," but kind of a waste of time.

Oh, and if it's true that this was his first novel, then I'm being harsh! Lord knows Leonard's first description of Lieutenant Duro...more
Rebecca
This was a very good read--it was hard to put down! The first book by Elmore Leonard is this Western with great and insightful characters and that gives you the feeling that this is how the West might have been. I definitely want to read more.
Sharon
When looking through some old westerns I found that this has been published in my birth year. Yes it's old but worth the read. If you are a fan of westerns try some of these older ones.
Ron
This was Elmore Leonard’s first published novel, written in his late twenties. In it, already fully developed, is the trademark edge that he brings to his fiction. With its opening scene in a barbershop in Contention, Arizona, we get just that—an exchange of contentious dialogue that’s both bristling and funny. It’s the same mastery of verbal dispute between people at sharp odds with each other that makes “Justified” so much fun today. . .

Read my review at my blog.
Greg Marullo
Proof that spare doesn't mean missing something. Loved it
Matt Piechocinski
Great stuff. I was expecting this book to be some what similar to Shane, but you know what? It was completely more hardboiled, and much more timeless. Seriously, Leonard could have wrote this yesterday, and not 60 years ago. With that sad, it's not dated at all.

The other thing I realized is that there are a ton of writers that I enjoy, especially Garth Ennis, that owe Leonard a serious debt ... you can see his dialogue, pacing, and plot in zillions of today's most prominant fiction writers.
William
This is how oaters should be written. I cannot believe how much better his westerns are than, say, Louis L'Amour. Actually, now that I think about it, I can believe it. They not only seem historically authentic (frankly, I am not in a position to judge this as I know jack shit about the old American west) they have actual characters rather than the "tall in the shoulders and narrow in the hip" cutouts that represent L'Amour's heroes.
Frank
I usually really dig Leonard from time to time...this one was just meh. Since his plots and characters are so similar in all of his books, it'd probably make a good academic excercise to explore why some are so much better than the others.

I, however, have not been a good academic for many years.

(Added later) This was his first novel...so that explains its weakness.
Sherrie
Elmore Leonard kills me every time. The way he can write an action passage, with only a few sentences, so you get a sense of space and movement is astounding. The way he sets up a new character - like the simplest charcoal sketch, the right amount of detail. Every time I finish a Leonard novel, I become even more aware of what a shitty writer I am.
Keith Knapp
I got onto Elmore Leonard from watching the FX T.V. Show Justified. I really liked the dialog and discovered that he has written an abundance of books. I thought I'd start with his first one, The Bounty Hunters. I really enjoyed this and loved the plot. I would recommend this to anyone that likes westerns or just enjoys a good book.
Richard
A great first novel, would make a great western. The only Elmore novel of the first four NOT made into a movie.
Mathew Carruthers
Very good - hard to believe that the writing career that brought us such memorable characters as Raylan Givens, Chili Palmer, and Karen Cisco has such humble beginnings. If you appreciate the works of Elmore Leonard, then read the book - it is the work of a writer who was learning and honing his craft, but it's also more.
Ken Seeling
I really liked this first book by Elmore Leonard if for no other reason I know where the author is going with his future books, The book is a typical western but the dialogue especially of the main character David Flynn is engaging. You certainly can pick up the same wit that has made Raylan such an intriguing character.
Matt
Elmore Leonard's first novel is interesting and shows some of the flair for dialogue of his later work but, all-in-all, the plot was too muddled, lacked focus and featured far too many characters to hold my interest. What is interesting, though, is how it reflects the process of development an author goes through.
brotagonist
I had high hopes for my first taste of Elmore Leonard's writing. This story wasn't bad, but it wasn't great, either. The writing style is rather dry and lifeless; the passion required for a captivating adventure is just not there. The characters play their roles, but they don't come to life.
Jim
Started and finished in one day, this was a classic Elmore which wasn't - seeing as this was his first novel, he was just starting his style, not honing it. A tight plot, tight dialogue and tight characterisation and since that point he's never written anything else.
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Elmore John Leonard lived in Dallas, Oklahoma City and Memphis before settling in Detroit in 1935. After serving in the navy, he studied English literature at the University of Detroit where he entered a short story competition. His earliest published novels in the 1950s were westerns, but Leonard went on to specialize in crime fiction and suspense thrillers, many of which have been adapted into m...more
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