Robert B. Parker Month #4: Appaloosa, Resolution

Appaloosa

A richly fancied Old West novel, first of the Everett Hitch Series by Robert B. Parker, released in 2005, who is a talented American crime fiction novelist, is as vivid and spare as a high mountain sunset. The old-fashioned Western novel was also adapted to a film of the same name starring Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen in 2008.

The plot revolves around the new Marshal Virgil Cole and his deputy Everett Hitch, two itinerant lawmen, who arrive in a small and dusty mining/ranching town, Appaloosa, where the people are suffering under the ruthless and corrupt rancher Randall Bragg who has taken all horses, women and supplies for himself, has little concern for the town’s law and has also gunned down the previous marshal and his deputy when they found out about Bragg’s men’s shooting actions and confronted him. Cole and Hitch are law abiding officers who have been taming towns and catching opportunistic thieves for a long time now. They are hired by city aldermen to take on the renegade Bragg. The book follows long chases, shootouts, gunfights and escapes between Cole and Bragg, concluding with an exciting showdown.

One of Parker’s finest storytelling, Appaloosa takes readers on a trip to untamed Western territories. The sense of irrevocable sacrifice and the honour and responsibility of lawmen blended with buddy relationships and smart-ass action and banter in the gunfight novel provides a moving take on the fascinating era. The spare styled elegant prose with tight-as-a-drum plotting and short, punchy dialogues provides a galloping tale of the wild west to its readers.

Resolution

The action doesn’t end in Appaloosa as Everett and Virgil get back together to face new challenges as they tame new towns. The sequel to Appaloosa, Resolution is yet another old Western historical fiction added to the Everett Hitch Series by the acknowledged dean of American crime fiction, Robert B. Parker.

The plot begins with its principle character, Everett Hitch riding solo in the afternoon sun and ending up in a West town, Resolution. He lands up taking up a job as a security guy at the Blackfoot saloon there and soon finds himself in neck-deep trouble. The saloon he works at is owned by Amos Wolfson, who is a greedy land and mine owner wanting to buy as much land as he can in the town and is an enemy of local ranchers and another baron of Resolution, Eamon O’Malley who is also eyeing to grab major lands. When Hitch establishes himself as the ladies’ protector and a man of action who sticks to his guns and is unafraid to stand up against unlawful activities in the town, it rankles the local ranchers. Tension mounts and the plot thickens as Hitch is joined by his partner Virgil Cole in the makeshift war between the ranchers and mine owners. Hitch and Cole guided by their duty and honour must do what is required to restore law and order.

The action-packed story is straightforward and light without any surprises or twists with more emphasis on the western heroes, Hitch and Cole’s relationship. The ritualistically clipped dialogues, rock steady storytelling, bullet-riddled rumination on friendship, duty, law and order certainly makes this strong Western prose a treat to read.

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