Thursday, February 17, 2011

Not-Really-A-Review: The Bounty Hunters by Elmore Leonard

Rather than being blown out on westerns after watching the remake of True Grit and playing too much Red Dead Redemption, I have been thirsting for it like a lost cowboy in the desert looking for an oasis. Uhhh, bad analogies aside, I wanted to read a pulp western and who better a writer than pulp master Elmore Leonard?

Though Leonard's well-known for his crime capers in cities like Detroit and Miami, once upon a time he was a western writer - and a pretty good one, to boot. The Bounty Hunters is his first novel, published in 1953. And, for a first novel and a pulpy western, it's wonderfully entertaining. The plot is pretty simple: a contract guide, Dave Flynn, and a lieutenant in the army, Bowers, head south to Mexico on orders from the Adjutant to find a renegade Apache. Along the way they meet some pretty bad dudes scalping anybody they come across for the pesos and, after scalping some friends of Flynn's and running off with a woman, Flynn and Bowers set off after them. Eventually, everybody meets a shootout - rurales upset with their leader, the scalping bandits, the Apaches, and the US Army.

The characters are fleshed out and I didn't find the Apaches stereotyped at all, which can sometimes be the case with pulpy westerns. Leonard's attention to detail is magnificent, as usual; and, of course, his dialogue, even at this early stage in his career, sparkles.

If you're looking for something to read because you're bored or you want something light with a lot of action and some tough-as-nails cowboys, I recommend The Bounty Hunters. I had to spend two days - gasp! - without the internets and I wanted something cool and quick: Leonard always delivers.

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