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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
"Bounty Hunter: The Beginning" is the story of Ben, an orphaned 16 year old boy whom we first meet when he is living alone in his father’s cabin. The story is set in the troubled years after the Civil War, and as Ben is growing up, his father teaches him to protect himself with his rifle. When two horse thieves attempt to rob him in the middle of the night, he is assisted in his defense by an unlikely ally, a large black stallion which had just been captured by a rancher and then stolen by the rustlers. Ben has an affinity for animals of all types, and they have the same for him, and this stallion is no exception. Ben ties up the rustlers and brings them in to the sheriff. He is surprised and pleased to be given a bounty for each of them and decides to make bounty hunting his avocation. He is determined to find the biggest, baddest outlaws and bring them to justice. His posse consists of the stallion, Blaze, and a coyote, Tracker, that he rescued from a trap. Later on, he meets up with a real bounty hunter, Tom, who takes him under his wing and becomes his mentor and friend.
This historical Western is a great coming of age story. We first see Ben as an isolated and uncertain boy on his own and watch as he becomes a man. The relationship he has with the horse and coyote is a lot of fun and really makes his character come alive. Billi Tiner has the ability to vividly paint the scenes in this book, from the campfire and traveling to the forays into town, and the exciting scenes where Ben and the townspeople try to stop the outlaws from waylaying the stagecoach. It is obvious from the details in "Bounty Hunter" that Tiner put a lot of effort into researching her story. Ben is an engaging hero and watching Tom teaching him how to succeed as a bounty hunter is marvelous. Ben quickly learns that there is much more to people than what their exterior shows as he comes to know and respect Tom. I enjoyed "Bounty Hunter" and was a bit saddened when I came to the last page. There is plenty of action and adventure, and the reader comes away with a new perspective on this period of American history. I highly recommend it.