By Robert B. Parker
Corvus, March 2013
The dust has yet to settle in the new frontier town of Resolution. It's barely even a town: a general store, a handful of saloons and a run-down brothel for the workers at a nearby copper mine. No sheriff has been appointed, and gunslingers have taken control.
Amid the chaos, itinerant lawman Everett Hitch has created a small haven of order at the Blackfoot Saloon. Charged with protecting the girls who work the back room, Hitch has seen off passing cowboys and violent punters - though it's his scheming boss, Amos Woolfson, who stirs up the most trouble.
When a greedy mine owner threatens the local ranchers, Woolfson ends up at the centre of a makeshift war. Hitch knows only too well how to protect himself, but with the bloodshed mounting, he's relieved when his friend Virgil Cole rides into town. In a place where justice and order don't yet exist, Cole and Hitch must lay down the law - without violating their codes of honour, duty and friendship.
Robert B. Parker is perhaps better known for his Spenser novels than his western work. Resolution is the sequel to Appaloosa, which was made into the successful film of the same name starring Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen. Resolution starts shortly after the end of that story.
This is the first book I’ve read by Parker and was taken by surprise by the fact it is written in a minimalistic style. There’s very little in the way of descriptions and when anyone speaks it is only described as the person having said something. It took a little while to get used to this method of writing but once I did I was soon swept up in the storyline and really enjoyed the conversations between Everett Hitch and Vigil Cole. Their matter-of-fact observations about life, killing, and solving problems being one of the highlights of the book.
The story is told through Hitch in the first person as he sides a man he will only come to detest. With the arrival of Cole he leaves Woolfson’s employ and they both find themselves on the opposite side, facing Woolfson’s replacement guns.
Cole is a terrific character, and sees nothing wrong in eliminating someone who gets in his way if this is the easiest way to solve a problem. In fact Cole has no reservations about taking on superior odds in a face to face situation, something that happens in this book in a very memorable scene.
When I finished reading this story I found myself wondering how this author had slipped by me, and have decided I must do something about catching up with his other western work, least of all those other tales starring Cole and Hitch.
I must finally make comment about this actual book I read. This is a beautifully designed hardback from a UK publisher that is to be published on March 5th 2013 and I can only hope it is a success for them and in turn leads to more westerns being published in this country again, be they reprints or original novels. Do yourself a favour and buy a copy.