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A richly imagined novel of the Old West, as spare and vivid as a high plains sunset, from one of the world's most talented performers.
"It was a long time ago, now, and there were many gunfights to follow, but I remember as well as I remember anything the first time I saw Virgil Cole shoot. Time slowed down for him. Always steady, and never fast . . ."
When it comes to writing, Robert B. Parker knows no boundaries. From the iconic Spenser detective series and the novels featuring Sunny Randall and Jesse Stone, to the groundbreaking historical novel "Double Play," Parker's imagination has taken readers from Boston to Brooklyn and back again. In "Appaloosa," fans are taken on another trip, to the untamed territories of the West during the 1800s.
When Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch arrive in Appaloosa, they find a small, dusty town suffering at the hands of renegade rancher Randall Bragg, a man who has so little regard for the law that he has taken supplies, horses, and women for his own and left the city marshal and one of his deputies for dead. Cole and Hitch, itinerant lawmen, are used to cleaning up after opportunistic thieves, but in Bragg they find an unusually wily adversary-one who raises the stakes by playing not with the rules, but with emotions.
This is Robert B. Parker at his storytelling best.

276 pages, Hardcover

First published June 7, 2005

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About the author

Robert B. Parker

230 books1,997 followers
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database named Robert B. Parker.
Robert Brown Parker was an American crime writer. His most famous works were the novels about the private detective Spenser. ABC television network developed the television series Spenser: For Hire based on the character in the late 1980s; a series of TV movies based on the character were also produced. His works incorporate encyclopedic knowledge of the Boston metropolitan area. Parker was 77 when he died of a heart attack at his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts; discovered at his desk by his wife Joan, he had been working on a novel. The Spenser novels have been cited by critics and bestselling authors such as Robert Crais, Harlan Coben and Dennis Lehane as not only influencing their own work but reviving and changing the detective genre.
Robert B. Parker was one of contemporary fiction's most popular and respected detective writers. Best known for his portrayal of the tough but erudite investigator Spenser, Parker wrote over twenty-five novels over the course of his career, which began in 1973. Parker's acclaim and his thorough background in classic detective literature helped earn him the somewhat unusual commission of completing a Philip Marlowe novel that the great Raymond Chandler had left unfinished.

Promised Land and the other Spenser novels spawned the movie Spenser: For Hire and a string of made-for-TV movies.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 697 reviews
Profile Image for Kemper.
1,390 reviews6,746 followers
June 9, 2015
Robert B. Parker’s later books seemed to prove the saying that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks with him becoming very repetitive with his characters and stories. However, maybe this one shows that if an old dog starts gnawing on a new bone that he might chew it up a little differently. At least for a while.

This wasn’t RBP’s first attempt at a western, but it was the first book in a new series in which he introduced Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch, two lawmen for hire. Their latest gig is with the town of Appaloosa where a rancher named Bragg has a bunch of thugs who are terrorizing the locals, and Bragg killed the marshal who tried to bring some of them in. Virgil and Everett aren’t having too much trouble taking care of business until a pretty lady named Allie comes to town. She and Virgil become an item, but there are signs that maybe she isn’t quite as loyal to Virgil as he is to her.

On the surface that sounds a lot of RBP’s work, and that Cole and Hitch are just two old West versions of Spenser and Hawk. However, there’s a couple of interesting wrinkles. First, is that this is written from the first person view of Everett, and he knows that he’s essentially Virgil’s sidekick and willingly follows his lead. Everett is also a slight variation on the typical RBP character. Yeah, he’s reliable in a fight and operates under a certain code of behavior, but it’s Virgil’s code that he adopted because of his loyalty. Everett also likes to have a good time, enjoying his whiskey and regular dalliances with a prostitute he grows fond of. So he seems a bit different from the usual internalized stoics that RBP usually wrote as the good guys.

That also gives someone an outside perspective to one of RBP’s usual plots about a the main character being in love with a woman who really doesn’t deserve his devotion. As a long time reader I was sick to death of this trope of his, but it plays better him with Everett in the role of watching a friend make a mistake while doing his best to stand by him and limit the damage. It also leads to the most atypical ending that RBP did in his later years.

Unfortunately, RBP undermined all the interesting and different things he did in this book by immediately reverting things back to his standard baseline and themes in the next one. Which is why I never bothered reading any more of the series after that. Still, this is an entertaining western, and it also got adapted into a pretty good movie starring Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen.
Profile Image for Robin Hobb.
Author 284 books96.9k followers
June 3, 2017
Robert Parker wrote an amazing series of books about a detective named Spenser. I feel in love with his writing in those books.

When he sidestepped into a Western setting, I had my doubts, but they were quickly dispelled. My husband and I have shared and enjoyed these books several times, and the movie adaptation is fairly faithful to it. I still recommend the book over the movie. It's an unabashedly male view of the tale, completely suited to the character who tells the story.

"I'm your huckleberry" will take on a new resonance for you.

Profile Image for Mike (the Paladin).
3,145 reviews1,805 followers
February 11, 2023
(The following should be heard by the reader in a slow, laconic, western drawl...)

Well, this here is a story 'bout the old American west. It ain't told as no parody (That's a long "o") "ner" is it to make funa' the genre. No sir this here's a "regaler" rip-snorten western. It ain't ashamed o' what it is an' I like it.

The western is in many ways "the" American folklore. The "cowboy", the "gunman", the "lawman" and others are as iconic as the knight in armor or samurai. I grew up with the western and while it has over the last couple of generations become less ubiquitous it stays with us. It's our Arthurian legend or Charlemagne cycle. The figure is so iconic that it can be used without explanation of the term "cowboy", "gunfighter" or "gunslinger" to most Americans and frankly most people in the world. They know American westerns (Stephen King came up with one of the all time great "hook lines" to open his Dark Tower Series, "The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed."

So here we have an American Western. I've not been a huge fan of other things I've read by Mr. Parker (though I sometimes think I should be) but this book with it's blunt direct story telling and it's characters painted in bold primary colors jerked me right into it. I was there riding through the by turns dusty or muddy streets of Appaloosa, on the trail and tracking and standing for the shootout.

I can recommend this one and if the ones that follow are as good as this I shall definitely join those who greatly mourn the passing of this fine writer.

****For those who care about a detail***

Nothing big here but to head off anyone who might be mislead Mr. Parker makes an error early on in the book. It's not something that effects the story so I throw this in here just for those who are interested.

Our "heroes" see a man in "buckskins" and the narrator says something like, "his buckskins looked like he'd worn them since they came from the buck".

"Buckskin" doesn't necessarily come from a male deer, a "buck". It can be deer hide, or moose, or elk or even smaller animals. "Bucking" is a particular way to preserve the skin. It generally uses wood ash and make a soft leather good for clothes.

Just thought someone might be interested.

Update 3/8/15: I'd never seen the movie based on this title, but I watched it today. It's not bad. Of course you don't get the entire book but it does a good job of sticking to the general story and feel. I will say that while Mortensen does a good job as Everett he didn't "look like" I'd pictured him. Ed Harris on the other hand did look pretty much the way I pictured Virgil.

Anyway, pretty good. Not one of those movies that makes me angry because it's so different. Harris and company seem to have read the book and wanted to it justice.
Profile Image for Fred Shaw.
562 reviews42 followers
February 12, 2018
Appaloosa by Robert B. Parker. Excellent western. Tough men good and bad with plenty of action. First in a series with Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch who come to Appaloosa to enforce the law. There’s a bad man, a bully, who until Cole and Hitch showed up ran over people in town and had murdered the previous marshal. There are showdowns and trials and Kiowa war parties, even a glimpse of a wild Appaloosa stallion with his herd of mares to keep you reading. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Algernon (Darth Anyan).
1,478 reviews942 followers
September 11, 2014

A nugget of solid gold, if the reader is in the mood for a Western novel. Appaloosa is small town out West. No need to describe it, it should be familiar from countless John Huston movies: one dusty main street in the middle of nowhere leading out into the open prairie, a saloon, a general store, a hotel, a barber and a lawman office. There are still some hostile Indian bands up in the hills, but the biggest problem of the city is one rogue rancher up on the range who sends his goons in to grab whatever they like from the town at gunpoint : a bottle of whisky, a couple of horses from the stable, a woman by force after they beat up her husband. When the local sheriff tries to arrest the culprits he ends up dead by the ranch gate.

So the citizens go to a professional gunslinger and ask him to take on the recently vacated job of peacekeeper. Virgil Cole gets paid to kill people. He may have spent time with the bandits in the past, but right now he works on the side of the law. There's a catch though in the contract: "My way, or the highway!" . The law Virgil Cole applies is personal, almost biblical in its tenets. Justice is just a side benefit of doing what the sheriff tells you to do. Virgil is ready to enforce it at gunpoint, making the demarcation line between him and the bad guys hard to see at times. Especially if anybody pisses him off: he has a short fuse and he is liable to lead with his fists.

I was surprised at the end of the novel to discover that I made only a couple of bookmarks in the text. That's actually one of the reasons I would say Parker did a great job of letting action speak louder than words, of letting the writer fade in the background and the story to take over. For me it is the mark of a true storyteller who doesn't try to dazzle me with his erudition or cleverness, who doesn't overanalyze his characters motivations, and whose dialogues flow naturally. There are some drawbacks. For example, I didn't get much of a feel for the place - the town, the scenery felt generic. Even the highpoint of the conflict seemed borrowed from the events at OK Corrall or a Sergio Leone spaghetti western. In compensation, I felt very comfortable with the main actors, again not an easy task to get right when you work with stock characters and within the confine of genre conventions. So let's get to the main actors:

Virgil Cole is a closed book. He doesn't like to talk about himself, about his past, about his love life. You could say he is monosyllabic. So we need a second character to shine some light on our Lone Ranger hero. This is Everett Hitch, another gun for hire and translator of his friend's grunts. Everett has been around the block several times, has some experience in the army during the Civil War and as an itinerant gun for hire afterwards, he reads books, is smooth with the ladies of pleasure and actually has a sense of humour. It helps that he is also a fast draw and handy with a big bore shotgun, the Robert Mitchum sidekick to Cole's impersonation of John Wayne. All this turns Everett into the right choice as the first person narrator of the book.

The bad guy, rancher Randall Bragg, starts as a bit of a cardboard cutout, but improves towards the end of the novel as an impersonation of the Progress that will soon come westward on newly laid train tracks: politicians, bankers, investors and corruption will ensure that the towners will still get robbed, just not at gunpoint.

The spanner in the works, metaphorically speaking, is of course a woman, the seductress who can make Cole stumble from the straight and narrow path of the gun. The love triangle and the way it is weaved into the basic story of two people facing each other with hands hovering over the butts of their sixguns, is what elevates the novel for me (together with the terse and minimalist writing), above the average action story. I can't wait to watch what Renee Zellweger is doing with the part of Allie French in the movie version, as I think she has a chance to steal the thunder from her male leads. The same love triangle also shows that Parker can use metaphor when it suits him, leading into the one quote I got and the conclusion of the drama. Cole and Allie watch from a highpoint the life of a herd of wild horses:

- Is it over?
- Yes.
- That was all about the mares?
- Yes.
- Do they always do that?
- Yes.
- Why?
- Stallion wants mares, he's got to fight another stallion.
- Why does this stallion care if another stallion mounts one of his mares?
- Ask him.
- But I mean, it's not love.
- Probably not, Cole said.

Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch will return for three more Westerns written by Robert B Parker, and I plan to check them out when I feel in the mood for an entertaining and fast read on the beach or during travel.
Profile Image for Jason Koivu.
Author 7 books1,209 followers
November 12, 2017
There's a new marshall in Appaloosa and his word is law.

Virgil Cole and his dependable sidekick Everett Hitch are lawmen hired to settle a podunk town out west. Bad guys abound. A woman shows up looking for love in all the wrong places. Trouble's a'brewin' boys!

This is a new-school western framed perfectly in the old school style. Robert B. Parker (better known for his Spenser detective series) seems to have been made to write this leather-hide rough action-adventure stuff.

Oh the brooding! So much brooding! This is all about tough guys talkin' tough, being tough and takin' no guff! Yeah, there's a woman or two here to represent the sex, but they're mostly whores, or shrews seeking men. This is not to say Parker seems to have anything against women, he just portrays his distant western setting as a place that "good" women wouldn't go.

Appaloosa's not high literature. It's a nice, quick fix for your "old west" needs, and as such, it's actually quite well-written comparable to some others I've read. So, thumbs up from me and I'll probably be reading another one of Parker's Cole & Hitch books on some future day when I want to feel like the Marlboro Man. Yeehaw!!!
Profile Image for Jim.
362 reviews90 followers
June 19, 2014
I really enjoyed the movie and made the rare (for me) decision to read the book after seeing the movie...it usually happens the other way around. It came as no surprise that the two forms of media differed in their presentation of the same story, but neither really suffered for it.

I knew that this was the first of a series by Parker, and that caused me to read it with some trepidation as I have been disappointed in some series that I have sampled of late. I need not have worried...all the ingredients of a sound oater are here: good dialogue and a believable story line. And although Parker's heroes go armed, he does not beat us to death with minutiae regarding the calibres and make and model of each and every bit of ordnance. In short, he assumes some knowledge on the part of the reader and doesn't talk down to you.

Still, the premise is limited. Cole and Hitch are town-tamers and, having tamed this town, will go on and tame the next, and the next. Ad nauseam. Or at least that's my assumption. Some details will change, like perhaps the next village oppressor will be a banker instead of a rancher. The names of the people shot down by our heroes will change, but I doubt that the story will vary much. Just the same, I think I'll put my assumption to the test and go on to read the next one some day...when the movie uses your dialogue practically verbatim for the screenplay, you know you have written a decent story.
Profile Image for Cheryl.
920 reviews
August 9, 2016
I usually don't read Westerns, but I did enjoy this one. It reads almost like a movie script, with mostly dialogue and action sequences. The writing is very spare, but alot is conveyed with a small amount of words. (There's alot going on under the surface.) I really liked the relationship between Cole and Hitch, the lawmen-for-hire. The plot, while having the classic Western tropes, still had a few twists in it to make it unpredictable. This is the first book in a series, which I will definitely contine to read. Recommended.
Profile Image for Mark.
1,302 reviews54 followers
June 29, 2015
So what happens when you finally find the time to put up some new bookshelves?- You discover quite a few books in your collection you forgot about you had and have not read yet. This book is an example of that and it is a first edition and signed as well by Mr Parker so a little treasure worthy of my time.

This time it is a western with as a leading character one Virgil Cole who is a great gunfighter who lends his hand to returning the law to lawless cities. Somewhere along the line he picks up Everett Hitch who is actually the one that tells the story in a Dr John Watson kind of style.

The two arrive at Appaloosa where a rancher by the name of Bragg considers the town his property and he and his men act accordingly and even go as far as killing the previous Marshall.
Cole & Hitch lay down the law, Cole falls for a woman, take down Bragg and make sure he gets his day in court. After that day Bragg escapes with the assistance of some hired help of the gunslinger variety. Cole and Hitch follow them and it comes to a big face down from which Bragg escapes.
When Cole & Hitch are returned and healed in Appaloosa, Bragg returns with an official pardon (although we never find out where and how he got this) and this time he takes another route to ensure his dominance in Appaloosa. The inevitable end is clear.

An great moodfull western that is clearly written by Parker as the hero's are casually moving through live while being deep thinkers. The pace of the story never becomes anything than leisurely even in the face of great danger. Well written and a lot of fun.
That said Virgil Cole is actually a dick, I like Hitch more in his own human way and Parker does not write a woman friendly book this time. The characterization of women in this book does not offer them any kindness. Which is perhaps the message Parker wants to give on this era. But it a different approach on women from the general Parker novels.

An easy and quick read, well worth your time.
Profile Image for TK421.
554 reviews257 followers
January 7, 2014
I like me a good western every now and then; it reminds me of my grandfather. Parker's Cole and Hitch series fit my needs perfectly: smart, fast-paced, enough violence without becoming gratuitous, and realistic depictions of what the Old West was really like . Although, I do have one complaint: I could not get Rene Zellweger's face out of my head when reading about Allie, very distracting.

Profile Image for Donna.
1,814 reviews
September 26, 2021
4.5 stars.

I first read this book when it came out in 2005 and I've read it a couple of times since then. It is written by Robert B. Parker prior to his death in 2010 and not one of the authors hired by the estate to continue his series. Let no one be in doubt that I am a huge fan of this author and all the series he created.

I was reminded of this book when I watched a re-run of the movie last weekend. I wanted to look back on my review and remind myself of how much like the movie it is. Well, I must have read it last before I started posting on Goodreads so I wanted to read it again and rectify that. The book depicts more violence and bad language than the movie did. I would say the movie is a PG version of the book. But most of the words from the movie were directly taken from the book. The movie took a few dramatic liberties and the book contained more scenes than on the screen. I loved both!

I don't read westerns so I really don't know how this book rates among other westerns but since I love the characters and the writing style, I'm rating it high.
Profile Image for Brad.
Author 2 books1,685 followers
October 3, 2020
I've been looking for a reasonably satisfying Western to listen to for a while now, and while I've come close, nothing I have read quite scratched my itch. For two big reasons, finally gave me that satisfying back scratch.

Reason #1 is the characters of Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch. Far more interesting than most of the gunslinging characters we usually bump into (and almost every boring cowboy), Cole and Hitch are complex men in both ethical makeup and personality. I admit I am more partial to Hitch, but then Hitch is our narrator, and we do get a much truer vision of who he is and what he cares about, yet I get a sense that most folks would prefer the more classically dangerous -- and somewhat simpler (although I think this is an illusion of the debut novel in the series) -- Cole.

Cole is a genius at what he does, and what he does is kill people. But Cole is a "righteous" killer. A man who believes in law and order and kills in its name and (mostly) by its rules. When it comes to battle, there is nothing he doesn't know, and his skills are unparalleled, although they are in no way flashy. He is also prone to violent bursts of temper (which are not "righteous" in any way), and, at least in Appaloosa, he is easily turned by a pretty girl's attentions. It all makes for a compelling character, but I'll still take the less dangerous, more philosophical, West Point graduated Hitch.

Reason #2 is Titus Welliver's performance as the voice of Hitch. It is Welliver at his monotonous best, putting gentle shifts of inflection into the steady rhythm he adopts, and those inflections give us everything we need to hear without breaking the fitting tonal monotony. It seems weird to suggest that monotony would work for narration, but in Appaloosa it really does.

I'm on to the next. I hope the next one holds up to the standard of the first.
Profile Image for HornFan2 .
681 reviews36 followers
September 14, 2019
Back when I first started reading, I just read Westerns and Native American nonfiction from my Dad's library. Back in the '90's, the late Robert B. Parker was the first non-Western author that I tried, totally enjoyed his writing and he's one of my all-time favorite authors.

I liked the two main characters in this one, while Appaloosa gets a little repetitive, the legendary author Robert B. Parker with his writing style still has you flipping pages, you know it's good since another author's estate actually has a series that's eerily close to Parker's or at least I thought it did.

Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch have been partners for 15 years, these days they take contracts from town, then run off the riff raft that torment the towns and are what's called in the old west town tamers. Add in the Kiowa tribe, an Appaloosa stallion and mares, the traditional good verse evil theme and it reads like a movie. That's what brought them to Appaloosa, where a ranch has been tormenting the town trying to take it over, it's Virgil and Everett's job to save the town.

Robert B. Parker's one of those author's that should be in every readers personnel libraries, he never disappoints, leaves you wanting more, like Leonard, King and Rowling. Man what a wordsmith!
Profile Image for Joan.
2,193 reviews
October 2, 2017
It took me a while to get into the prose of this book - its 'dry' tone fits the story, but is a little 'distancing' at first.
However, I was drawn into the story and it was with a real sense of dismay that I reached the end.

Fabulous writing. Real characters, realistic situations, and not an unnecessary word anywhere in the book.

Profile Image for Terry .
394 reviews2,144 followers
October 7, 2020
Admission time: I saw the movie before I read the book and it is partly that which led me to check it out. As far as westerns go as a literary genre, I am pretty much a newcomer. When I was younger, I was never particularly drawn to the era, but after reading Lonesome Dove I saw that I might be missing out on some good stuff, so these days I’m generally on the lookout for a good western when the notion strikes me. I am therefore admittedly not an expert in the genre, but I think I can venture the opinion that in many ways this story looks a lot like a cookie-cutter western: we have the two gunslingers entering a frontier town in need of some men willing and able to enforce the law (admittedly this is something of a switch up from the perhaps more expected lone gunslinger); an evil ranch owner (Randall Bragg) with his parcel of villains squeezing the town as de facto tyrants; the wandering woman in search of love and protection who finds herself drawn to one of our heroes, all set against the backdrop of the arid and dangerous frontier wasteland of the American west.

Our two heroes are Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch, one a taciturn sociopath (or is it psychopath? I always get confused by the distinction) unequalled in dishing out violence and managing to survive (who, luckily for the rest of society, adheres to a strict code that sets the principles of law and order above his own personal gain…hmm, does this mean he’s not a sociopath, just a really violent guy who seems to lack the normal emotional responses we expect? But, um, that still sounds like a sociopath to me); the other a somewhat more educated former soldier whose own skills are by no means contemptible, but who appears happy to play second fiddle to the seemingly peerless gunman Cole. Our second fiddle, Everett Hitch, is also the narrator of our story and while he is certainly a man of more words than his friend Cole, he is by no means a loquacious storyteller. His reserved voice seems appropriate to the genre, however, and effectively conveys the personalities of the two men and the nature of the world they live in.

It is a world of opportunity, usually gained by violence, in which a man’s personal strength and ability to shoot first and ask questions later is generally the key to success. Right and wrong are shifting entities and, as we see in this very story, one town’s lawman is another town’s criminal. The old chestnut of the robber baron squeezing the poor townsfolk via terror is the backbone of this story, but it does hold a few twists and turns, morphing into something a little different by the end. Cole and Hitch wander into the town of Appaloosa and the former’s reputation motivates the leading men of the town to offer him and his partner the job of lawmen in the hopes that they can solve the problem of Bragg. They are a bit nonplussed, however, at the draconian rules Cole puts in place. Have they simply traded one overlord for another? Of course, Bragg and our two heroes soon come to blows and events are complicated by the appearance of Mrs. Allie French, a wandering beauty who attaches herself to Cole and proceeds to cause no end of problems for our heroes both purposely and accidentally.

The two main characters are a pretty interesting duo despite the fact that many of their primary characteristics seem to come from existing genre tropes. I’ve called Cole the sociopath, primarily because he seems prone to violence, is exceptionally good at it, and appears to lack some of the normal emotional responses you would expect from someone, even one inured to a violent lifestyle. Hitch, for his part, freely admits his fear in certain circumstances and responds in a way that we would generally expect given the situations in which he finds himself. He also seems able to get along with others much more easily and understand them in ways that are apparently beyond Cole. On the other hand, Cole is rigid in his adherence to the code that the law (a perhaps amorphous and less than universal concept in this milieu) sets down. As he himself says: “Only way to stay clean is to stay with the rules.” Hitch, on the other hand seems a little less convinced by the whole concept of law as an abiding governor of one’s actions. If he sees an expedient way out of a problem that might contradict the rules, he is always willing to float it as a possibility despite knowing what Cole’s response will be.

I won’t go into any further details on the story, but I definitely enjoyed it and the fact that it moved at a good pace meant that I was never bored. Final verdict on which was better, the movie or the book? In this case I think it comes out about even with no clear winner, I’d recommend both of them.
Profile Image for Cyndi.
2,326 reviews96 followers
June 1, 2018
I love a good western, and this one fits the bill. 🤠
We have tough men and lots of violence. Our story begins with the bad guys being truly bad and the good guys riding into town to clean it up.
On to the next book and the wild, wild west. 🤗
Profile Image for Jo.
292 reviews28 followers
February 13, 2013
I loved Robert S. Parker's Spenser series with the wise-cracking Boston private eye, so I thought I'd try one of his westerns. Appaloosa is the first book in a series (now taken over by writer Robert Knott after Parker's death). If you are a Parker fan, you will enjoy his take on a western.
Profile Image for Annerlee.
241 reviews46 followers
September 16, 2021
Yep. Loved the characters, the setting, the story. It was a quick but enjoyable read and I intend to read more in the series.

Thank you Cherie for the introduction : )
Profile Image for Cherie.
1,278 reviews113 followers
February 9, 2018
I thought I did not care for the first person narrative when I started reading the story, but it soon became background noise, and I did not think about it any more. I thought it was slow at first but as the characters became more familiar and their jobs and relationship in the story became more clear, and endearing, that too, became irrelevant. Even the old style names and their western sounding syllables acclimated to my senses. This was a western, after all. My only excuse for my feelings is that I don't read many westerns and it is always a stretch before my body and mind relaxes to the format.

I have read Robert B. Parker stories before, but always the mystery stories. Until I was required to read a book, that had been made into a movie of the same name, starring a certain actor, I did not know about the book, nor the movie. I have not seen the movie, but I did seek out the trailer and watch it, after I was about half way through the book.

Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch are lawmen. They are unique. They believe in the law. Their law, which Virgil writes down and posts in every town that they are hired to "clean up". They are a team, and have worked together for many years, and so far, they have managed to survive everything that they have faced.

I really liked the story, the gunfights, the women, the Indians, and the bad guys. It was all there. The dialogue was minimal. Neither man is much of a talker. Cole leads and Hitch follows.

A few passages I bookmarked:

"Now, you see that," Cole said.
I nodded. Cole never talked just to be talking, though when he did talk, he seemed to ramble. That was mostly he wasn't talking, he was thinking out loud and new thoughts occurred to him in the process. For actual talking, if it wasn't for me prodding him, he might not talk at all."

"Nice meetin' you boys, " I said.
"Likewise," Ring said.
Mackie nodded. None of us offered to shake hands. There was no advantage to letting somebody get hold of you.

I followed with the mule. As we got down into the valley, the Indians were out of sight behind the hills. We wouldn't see them again until we got out of the valley. Then we might see more of them than we wanted to. If the thought was bothering Cole, he didn't mention it. Nor did he show any sign of being in a hurry. He was going where he was going to go at the pace he needed to go at, and he was taking me with him.

"Remember," Cole said. "We walked through this already."
"It'll be just the same," I said. "'Cept for them trying to shoot us."
"I'm hopin' to shoot them first," Cole said.
"Me, too."
"But remember, " Cole said. "Steady's more important than fast."
Profile Image for Grey853.
1,394 reviews45 followers
April 19, 2014
I liked this book better than the sequel RESOLUTION, but I have to admit that while I love Robert Parker as a writer, his westerns aren't for me. His two main characters are gun slingers, which pretty much means that they're both stone cold killers. The main character Cole comes across as a sociopath with few redeeming features other than his loyalty to his friend and his fast gun.

The only women in the book aren't any better. There are whores and a woman who is much worse than a whore, manipulating men by sleeping with them for a higher place in the pecking order of society.

I realize it was a harsh existence in the west during those pioneer times, but this kind of conduct is something I didn't really find very entertaining.
Profile Image for Lindsey.
421 reviews
March 20, 2009
My first (and probably last) western. Kirkus, Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly all gave this a starred review, so I guess people who like Westerns thought it was really good, but I do not get it.

The only western story I really know is of Wyatt Earp, and this is basically the same story. Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch are sherriffs-for-hire, and they are brought into Appaloosa because a local bad guy has too much power and is making the town miserable. There are gun fights and loose women and lots of machismo.

The pros were that this book was short (4 CD's) and the narrator had the perfect voice for the part. Deep, drawling, with a slight accent while still perfectly understandable.
Profile Image for Hana.
522 reviews288 followers
December 30, 2016
This reminded me of a classic Star Trek episode in which the Enterprise gang find themselves back in the wild, wild west just in time for a shootout at the OK coral only here it's Spenser and Hawk in the time warp.

Just kidding. The protagonists are named Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch, but it still felt like a Spenser mystery. Mildly diverting.
Profile Image for Jim.
2,749 reviews56 followers
December 31, 2019
Westerns, for the most part, are not my thing, excepting perhaps McCarthy and McMurtry, but every once in a while I'll pick one up. In this case I had read one of the new Parker novels that was actually written by someone else, and I wondered if the original Parker was as good as people seemed to believe he was. My conclusion is that he is pretty good. The story was fast paced, though not all that complicated, and I liked the main characters. I fear that future volumes in the series may not expand much on the characters or story line and might be repetitive, but I think I will give the second one in the series a try to see if that is the case. There were aspects of the story I didn't like (such as the meager and uncomplimentary role of female characters), but I will ascribe that at the moment to the period rather than the author until I read some more of his stories. Still, I whipped through it and found it kind of fun, and there is room for fun little books. Morsels.
Profile Image for Scott A. Miller.
495 reviews16 followers
June 1, 2020
A solid western by Parker but certainly not his best. Other than the first one in the Stone series, which was excellent, Spenser and Randall started out average at best like this one. 3 Stars, however, by Parker is still pretty great.

Cole and Hitch have plenty of promise, but like all Parker books, you have to care about who the heroes are trying to help. In this one the victims, especially Allie, were hard to like. It was pretty standard Parker fair, figure out bad guy, hunt bad guy, kill bad guy. Just not very satisfying.
Profile Image for Nate Hendrix.
944 reviews6 followers
January 1, 2023
We watched the movie based on this book and liked it enough that I put the book on my reading list. This is the same author who who the Spencer For Hire books. I'm looking forward to reading his other novels. One of my favorite parts of being on vacation is how much I get to read.
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