three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
18-Sept-Oct-2005
user_rating: 
0

A-AppaloosaWhen Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch come to town, things are usually well out of hand. That’s the way they prefer it. As town tamers they restore peace to the lawless corners of the Old West, one hitching post at a time. Appaloosa is next on their list. Under siege by the rancher Randall Bragg, who killed off the last marshal that tried to stop him, it’s a perfect place for Cole and Hitch to prove their mettle. But when the wily widow, Allie French, distracts Cole’s attention, Appaloosa’s plot moves towards a thrilling conclusion.
Putnam. 320 pages. $24.95. ISBN: 0399152776

Ft. Worth Star Telegram 4 of 5 Stars
"Parker has written a shoot-’em-up that is a delight all around. Cole remains stoic and taciturn throughout the book. … You even have to like the villains for their total badness." Terri Schlichenmeyer

Washington Post 4 of 5 Stars
"Parker seems to have written Appaloosa as an exercise in pure, old-fashioned storytelling, and on those terms it succeeds quite well. Parker takes material we have all known for years—gunslingers, saloons, shady ladies, shootouts, Indian raids—and brings it to life with writing that is fresh, fast, and sure." Patrick Anderson

Providence Journal 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Parker’s style is well suited to the western genre. Reading his terse, hard lines gives one the feeling of staring down a gun barrel; he can create vivid scenes with a bare handful of words." Richard Ring

St. Petersburg Times 3.5 of 5 Stars
"After all, these two most American of fictional genres [Westerns and Mysteries] are essentially about the same kind of characters: isolated men of violence who make peaceful communities possible, but can never be part of them. Whether we call him Shane or Spade, the icon is the same."
Colette Bancroft

Los Angeles Times 3 of 5 Stars
"[Parker] revels in ‘Yep. Nope.’ dialogue and spare descriptions of frontier towns and arid landscapes and the gunfighters, storekeepers, painted women, hostile Kiowas, and People Without a Past who inhabit them." Michael Harris

Seattle Times 3 of 5 Stars
"Appaloosa strains occasionally a little too hard for profundity and ends up striking a self-conscious pose, but overall it’s a melancholy and sometimes moving tale of a lost but fascinating era." Adam Woog

Critical Summary

Taking a break from his long-running series of Spenser novels, Parker moseys back to the Old West. He’s eyed this back-acre before in Gunman’s Rhapsody, a fictionalization of the Wyatt Earp story, but critics feel Appaloosa’s original plot allows him more room to develop his trademark themes of personal honor and masculine camaraderie. With sharp dialogue and a plot that "gallops to a perfect, almost mythical ending," it’s clear that Parker can swap genres and not lose a step (St. Petersburg Times). In fact, a few critics even note that he seems refreshed by the change of scenery.

Also by the Author

Gunman’s Rhapsody (2001): Parker riffs on Wyatt and the Earps, the Clantons, and the events leading up to the showdown at the O.K. Corral.