Andrew's Reviews > Appaloosa

Appaloosa by Robert B. Parker
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Apr 01, 09

Read in March, 2009

I read this book for a book club that normally tackles literary classics and works that we feel have some sort of resonance in the wider world. This time, though, a new member of the group picked something out, and we ended up reading this Western novel, which I personally blew through in a day. I'm not sure what motivated him to pick it, as there were really no wider cultural resonances here that seemed to me to have any significance. This is pure pulp Western, narrated by a hard-working lawman who is quick on the draw and always able to do what he needs to do to keep the peace. Of course, sometimes that means killing people. In fact, in this book, it often means killing people. Our lawman narrator, Everett Hitch, is second fiddle, though, to Virgil Cole, an even tougher, even faster, even more successful lawman who is depicted as somewhat of a sociopath. Hitch backs up Cole rather than taking the lead on any particular operations, but sometimes it also seems that he's there to keep Cole in line, to check his more violent impulses.

In this book, Cole and Hitch hire on as marshals in a town called Appaloosa, where a local rancher has killed the previous marshal and basically taken over the town. He and his men take whatever they want for free and rape and murder at will. The town is tired of the situation and expect Cole and Hitch to fix it. Which they do, at first. It's what happens after that that causes the problem.

And don't get me wrong, I enjoyed reading about all of it. It was a fun, pulpy novel about crime and violence in the old West. I like crime novels anyway, so I was pretty much guaranteed to enjoy this one. But it wasn't quite what I expected, and certainly isn't some sort of deathless work of literature. So hey, this book is pretty fun, but I can't say it's amazing or anything. Good, not great.
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