Fiction - Western
354 Pages
Reviewed on 07/31/2020
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Gobi Jane for Readers' Favorite

Four-Flusher by James M Shellenbergar is a mesmerizing Western with an unforgettable protagonist, a compelling story of one man’s search for justice for a murdered sister. Elijah Pike returns from the war to the disquieting reality of his sister’s murder and what makes it even more painful is the fact that her killer was never caught. He has chosen to be a bounty hunter and has made a good reputation in the field, including delivering the notorious Bill Duncan to the Sheriff, dead. When he finds out about the killer’s lair, he sets out to capture the killer.

This is an interesting story with great characters. I liked the writing and the way the author handles the setting. It is the Wild West, and a time when telegrams were still sent and when rangers were very common. The author ensures that elements of the setting, including the sunbaked land of the Arizona Territory with the stark sky and the heat, are well-written into the story. The characters are sophisticated and the background to each character comes out brilliantly in the story. For instance, the protagonist is a tough guy who’s been at war and readers can understand the rough part of him from his experience. Will Carroll is another enigmatic character and I loved the suspense built around this character. I enjoyed how the accents of the characters are captured in the well-written dialogues. Four-Flusher is a fast-paced, tightly written, and cunningly plotted story of revenge. It is a delightful read for fans of Westerns.

K.C. Finn

Four-Flusher is a work of fiction in the western, action, and thriller sub-genres, and was penned by author Mike Shellenbergar. The opening to a new series of novels set in the wild west, this atmospheric and action-packed work follows protagonist Elijah Pike. Elijah is pained by the tragic loss of his sister, so when he discovers that he has a chance to hunt down the killer who ended her life, he launches himself into a new world of a bounty hunter and hardened revenge. So begins his journey of thrills, dangerous moments, and emotional trials as he takes on the west, one bad guy at a time.

Author Mike Shellenbergar delivers a fantastic novel that captures both the classic spirit of the western film and book genre but also updates the craft for a modern audience by bringing in some real blockbuster action and gritty realism. I enjoyed Elijah Pike as a central character very much, and although this is a revenge story, his emotional qualities are deeper than that and we see him grow and change a great deal through the challenges of the novel. As the plot rolls on, we become more and more invested in his story and his survival, which makes for some real edge-of-your-seat moments as Shellenbergar ramps up the danger levels with every chapter. Overall, I would highly recommend Four-Flusher to fans of the western genre, but also to those readers who like high-octane action stories and gritty heroes and are maybe looking to try a western tale for the very first time.

Trudi LoPreto

Four-Flusher is a realistic wild West story by James M Shellenbergar about Elijah Pike. It is a detailed account of Pike and his many adventures. The story begins with Pike searching for the man who killed his sister. This quickly evolves into him becoming a very good bounty hunter, bringing in many wanted bad guys. He is so good at what he does that it leads to him doing work for the U.S. Treasury Department. President Grant is soon involved and when he realizes what Pike can do, Pike is given a special secret assignment with a very large reward when he completes it.

Pike’s journey puts him in danger at every turn. He has to face killers, fight for his life, struggle through blizzards and deserts looking for the gang responsible for making counterfeit Double Eagles. He travels the West and heads into Mexico following the trail, often spending the night awake planning and waiting for the right time to strike at the enemy and get one step closer to an answer. There is also romance for Pike, but he knows that the life of a bounty hunter is not a life that the woman he loves deserves. Four-Flusher has twists, turns, and excitement on every page, and is hard to stop reading. James M Shellenbergar’s character is a hero and so very likable and I am anxious to see what the future holds for Pike. Four-Flusher brings the old wild West right off the pages and will make you wish you could be part of the excitement.

Romuald Dzemo

Four-Flusher by Mike Shellenbergar is an enthralling Western that is well told. The protagonist is a hard rider called Elijah Pike, a man who has been a scout for the cavalry in the war against the Apaches in New Mexico, the best of the crop. After the war, he takes on a new role as a bounty hunter. But he is a man driven by the thirst for revenge. His sister was murdered and no one has caught the man who killed her. When he gets the opportunity to go after his sister’s killer, he knows nothing will stop him. Can he get justice for her?

This is a well-written, character-driven story with exceptional and unforgettable characters. The opening already provides the powerful image of Elijah Pike, riding hard with his bandana over his mouth and nose. The author introduces the elements of the physical setting with the hot weather, the heat, and the topography. The characters are well-developed, from the curious and funny bartender to law-enforcement and characters linked to government offices to the ruffians that are hunted down. The picture of the Wild West, a place where crime is common, is beautifully captured. Mike Shellenbergar’s descriptions are terrific and the dialogues are impeccably written, translating the way the locals talk. Four-Flusher is fast-paced and engaging, a story written in great prose. The motivation is skillfully explored in the protagonist and I was curious to discover who the killer of his sister was and whether he succeeds in his mission to avenge her. It is a delightful read.

Rabia Tanveer

Four-Flusher by James M Shellenbergar is the story of a man on a mission to find the person who killed his sister. Elijah Pike is famous in the West. The stories about him are legendary and how this bounty hunter can hold his own in a fight. Pike has his reasons for becoming a bounty hunter though. He begins his journey as a form of revenge. He needs to find the person who killed his sister Laura. However, the search for his sister’s killer ignites a fire in him and before he knows it, he is stuck in a web of lies and deceit. He becomes a bounty hunter and learns that the bad guys are not just the men looting the bars and causing chaos.

I love the way James M Shellenbergar depicts the wild west. Reading Refuge was a whole experience. I am so happy that this author does not disappoint and further raised my expectations with Four-Flusher. Pike is a mysterious man who calculates everything before he takes action. He is a man of few words, but when he does speak, he oozes charm and intelligence. Pike displays the hallmark of the author's brilliant protagonists. He is intuitive, sharp, and unafraid to face challenges head-on. As always, the suspense and action are strong enough to have me sitting on the edge of my seat and holding my breath. The story develops at a pace fast enough to keep the reader entertained while the narrative flows smoothly to keep the reader’s interest. Pike’s arc is intense yet so fitting for his journey. This is a must-read story!