A Black Horse Western from Hale, 1992
Jonathan Grimm was a bounty hunter, maybe the best in the business. He was also known as The Reaper. Hunting two men he catches one hiding in a log cabin in the Ouachita Mountains. Forced to kill the man Grimm is shocked to find the dead man’s ten-year-old daughter has witnessed the killing. How could he track the second man now he was lumbered with the girl? She was sticking to him like a saddle burr and was just as hell-fire irritating.
B.J. Holmes has created an interesting hero in Jonathan Grimm. Grimm is a man who’s feeling the effects of old age. He suffers from rheumatism, failing eyesight over distances and general tiredness. Although still quicker than most with his guns he tries to avoid fistfights as his reflexes are slowing and the bruises take longer to heal. But he’s still a tough man, a man who takes no nonsense from others which makes his relationship with the young girl all the more fascinating.
At first Sarah hates him and he sees her as a hindrance, someone to be left with the first people he can find who will have her. Trouble is Sarah won’t be left with anyone and Grimm is surprised when she tells people he’s her father.
Holmes writes a great tale that hooked me quickly. The hunt for the second outlaw almost takes second place to the changing relationship between girl and bounty hunter that provides surprise, humour, sadness and warmth.
The action is fast and violent and a couple of quiet disturbing themes are introduced such as child prostitution.
I found this to be a very hard book to put down and read it in two sittings. Now I’ve got to go hunting through my collection for the other Reaper books I have as well as searching for more of B.J. Holmes’ work.
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