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The Bounty Hunters

The Bounty Hunters

3.6 15
by Elmore Leonard

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David Flynn is a legend in the rugged Arizona Territory—a U.S. cavalry turned army scout and the only man alive who can bring in the fierce Apache renegade Soldado Viejo. Tracking an elusive Indian with a price on his head south of the border is dangerous business. And when a cunning outlaw and a murderous bounty hunter dog his path, Flynn gets on a bloody


David Flynn is a legend in the rugged Arizona Territory—a U.S. cavalry turned army scout and the only man alive who can bring in the fierce Apache renegade Soldado Viejo. Tracking an elusive Indian with a price on his head south of the border is dangerous business. And when a cunning outlaw and a murderous bounty hunter dog his path, Flynn gets on a bloody trail of treachery and slaughter in a lawless land where a man has to watch his back against friend and enemy alike. On the deadliest mission of his career, in a sultry desert hell where the hunter becomes the hunted, Flynn's struggle for justice has just turned into the battle of his lifetime.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Dave Flynn stretched his boots over the footrest and his body eased lower into the barber chair. It was hot beneath the striped cloth, but the long ride down from Fort Thomas had made him tired and he welcomed the comfort of the leather chair more than he minded the heat. In Contention it was hot wherever you went, even though it was nearly the end of October.

He turned his head, feeling the barber behind him, and frowned at the glare framed in the big window. John Willet moved to his side and he saw the barber's right ear bright red and almost transparent with the glare behind it. Beneath the green eyeshade, Willet's face sagged impassively. It was a large face, with an unmoving toothpick protruding from the corner of the slightly open mouth, the toothpick seeming unnaturally small.

John Willet put his hand under the young man's chin, raising the head firmly. “Let's see how we're doing,” he said, then stepped back cocking his head and studied the hairline thoughtfully. He tapped comb against scissors then moved them in a flitting automatic gesture close to Flynn's ear.

“How's it going with you?”

“All right,” Flynn answered drowsily. The heat was making him sleepy and it felt good not to move.

“You still guiding for the soldier boys?”

“On and off.”

“I can think of better ways to make a living.”

“Maybe I'll stay in the shade and take up barbering.”

“You could do worse.” Willet stepped back and studied the hairline again. “I heard you was doing someprospecting...down in the Madres.”

“For about a year and a half.”

“You're back to guiding, now?” And when Flynn nodded, Willet said, “Then I don't have to ask you if you found anything.”

For a few minutes he moved the scissors deftly over the brown hair, saying nothing, until he finished trimming. Then he placed the implements on the shelf and studied a row of bottles there.

“Wet it down?”

“I suppose.”

“You can use it,” Willet said, shaking a green liquid into his hand. “That sun makes the flowers grow...but your hair isn't flowers.”

“What about Apaches?” Flynn said.

“What about them?”

“They don't wear hats. They have better hair than anybody.”

“Sun don't affect a man that was born in hell,” Willet said, and began rubbing the tonic into Flynn's scalp.

Flynn closed his eyes again. Maybe that was it, he thought. He remembered the first Apache he had ever seen. That had been ten years ago.

D.A. Flynn, at twenty the youngest first lieutenant on frontier station, took his patrol out of Fort Lowell easterly toward the Catalinas; it was dawn of a muggy July day. Before ten they sighted the smoke. Before noon they found the burned wagon and the two dead men, and the third staked to the ground staring at the sun...because he could not close his eyes with the lids cut off. Nor could he speak with his tongue gone. He tried to tell them by writing in the sand, but the marks made little sense because he could not see what he was writing, and he died before he could make them plainer. But out of a mesquite clump only a dozen yards from the wagon, his men dragged an Apache who had been shot through both legs, and there was all the explanation that was needed. He could not speak English and none of the soldiers could speak Chiricahua Apache, so the sergeant dragged him back into the mesquite. There was the heavy report of a revolving pistol and the sergeant reappeared, smiling.

The hell with it, Flynn thought.

He felt the barber's fingers rubbing hard against his scalp. His eyes were still closed, but he could no longer see the man without the eyelids. He heard the barber say then, “You're starting to lose your hair up front.”

Willet combed the hair, which was straighter than usual with the tonic, brushing it almost flat across the forehead, then began to trim Flynn's full cavalry-type mustache. The thinning hair and dragoon mustache made him appear older, yet there was a softness to the weather-tanned face. It was thin-lined and the bone structure was small. Dave Flynn was a month beyond his thirty-first birthday, but from fifteen feet he looked forty. That's what patrols in Apache country will do.

“Hang on,” John Willet said, moving around the chair. “I see a couple of wild hairs.” He took a finer comb from that shelf and turning back to Flynn he looked up to see the small, black-suited man enter the shop.

“Mr. Madora.”

Flynn opened his eyes.

Standing the way he was, just inside the doorway with his thumbs hooked into vest pockets, Joe Madora could be mistaken for a dry-goods drummer. He was under average height and heavy, his black suit clinging tightly to a thick frame, and the derby placed evenly over his eyebrows might have been a size too small. His mustache and gray-streaked beard told that he was well into his fifties and probably too old to be much good with the pistol he wore high on his right hip. But Joe Madora had been underestimated before, many times, by Apaches as well as white men. Most of them were dead...while Joe was still chief of scouts at Fort Bowie.

He stood unmoving, staring at Dave Flynn, until finally Flynn said, “What's the matter with you?”

Madora's grizzled face was impassive. “I'm trying to figure out if you got on a fancy-braid charro rig under that barber cloth.”

“It takes longer than a year and a half to go Mexican.” Flynn nodded to the antlers mounted next to the door. “There's my coat right there.”

Madora glanced at the faded tan coat...

The Bounty Hunters. Copyright © by Elmore Leonard. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Elmore Leonard wrote more than forty books during his long career, including the bestsellers Raylan, Tishomingo Blues, Be Cool, Get Shorty, and Rum Punch, as well as the acclaimed collection When the Women Come Out to Dance, which was a New York Times Notable Book. Many of his books have been made into movies, including Get Shorty and Out of Sight. The short story "Fire in the Hole," and three books, including Raylan, were the basis for the FX hit show Justified. Leonard received the Lifetime Achievement Award from PEN USA and the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America. He died in 2013.

Brief Biography

Bloomfield Village, Michigan
Date of Birth:
October 11, 1925
Place of Birth:
New Orleans, Louisiana
B.Ph., University of Detroit, 1950

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Bounty Hunters 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
BrianKGlass More than 1 year ago
I can't say enough great things about this book, this will not be a very subjective review I'm afraid. I've been a fan of Elmore Leonard's crime novels for decades, he is in the top three of my favorite authors but he has written some stuff I don't care for. The fact that something is written by Leonard doesn't make it an automatic 5 star rating for me. This has just about everything I look for in a book. The story is lean and entertaining. At 172 pages it's short compared to today's novels but it feels so much fuller than a lot of stuff I read. The chapters with the capture of the main characters by the Apaches feel a little needless as far as the plot itself goes, but the action and dialog are so well done I didn't mind. As far as heroes go David Flynn is a good one. You don't often get a lot of back motivation for an Elmore Leonard character and Flynn is no exception, he does good because that is just how he is. There isn't a lot of soul searching involved. Leonard draws characters with that person's actions or observations from another character in short concise sentences. In his first novel he doesn't build characters as slowly over the course of the book as he does in later stories but you get enough of a feel for them that the characterization doesn't suffer. I wouldn't describe the plot as run of the mill but it is nothing unique. There are only so many stories to tell. With this book (like most Leonard stories) the devil is in the details. Things come together logically and there aren't any plot holes. The pace like I've mentioned is swift but the story doesn't feel bare. If I have one complaint it would be that the story's ending feels a little abrupt. I don't want to over sale this book but it really is one of those that I have to talk about to everyone I know once I've finished. I love lines like "Hilario's voice was barely above a whisper, breathing words in disbelief..." or "...patient faces that were now tired of being patient but knew no other expression." From the first page Leonard's description of the barber puts you right there with it's visualization. In the end you might not learn anything new but you won't spend a better time entertaining yourself then with this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Although I've read only some of his many books and haven't liked some of them at all, I ALWAYS find Leonard's characters and the settings he creates stark, unusual and very memorable. This was Leonard's first book and it certainly is not his best, but it serves as an early sample of how fine his work could be as his writing skills and voice matured. aj west
Sannois More than 1 year ago
A great, quick read I got into Elmore Leonard through his Western short stories, so having something a little longer was nice. Don't get me wrong, I would have loved to have a longer book, but I don't think a review should suffer just because I want more. I would have given this book a 5/5 except there were two things that could have been different, both in the climax. The final confrontation with Soldado Viejo (the Apache chief) went so quickly, you'll miss it if you blink. I really wanted just a page (or even a half a page) more. And the momentary mysteriousness of Col. Deneen's fate seems unnecessary, although the outcome and Flynn's reaction is perfect. If you're not sure you want to read a Western (or maybe you do, but you're trying to decide if you like Leonard's writing style), this is a good place to start.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Early 1953 work that just doesn't flow as well as his later books. I thought it might be interesting to read an early Western by Leonard but this was a disappointing story. Disregard all the good reviews written sixty years ago.
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