Note: This review is by my husband Jim.
Robert Parker is well known for his 50+ detective novels featuring Spenser, Jesse Stone, and Sunny Randall. But he is also quite good at creating westerns, which feature his terse and saturnine gun toters, Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch. Resolution, published in 2008, may be the best of the bunch.
This time Hitch, who is looking for work, stumbles upon a job as the “lookout” chair (in today’s parlance, the bouncer) in a somewhat sleazy bar in the newly formed and virtually lawless town of Resolution, somewhere out west. Resolution is small, but control of the town is being hotly contested between Hitch’s employer, Amos Wolfson, and Eamon O’Malley, the owner of a local copper mine.
At first, Hitch is more than capable of handling the local rough stuff alone, but things get dicey when O’Malley hires a couple of well known gunslingers (Cato and Rose) whose formidable reputations precede them. Fortunately for Hitch, his long time buddy Virgil Cole shows up in town to even the odds. The tension escalates as Wolfson and O’Malley each hire additional gunmen. Both bosses turn out to be unscrupulous evil doers, and Cole, Hitch, Cato, and Rose ultimately end up on the same side protecting innocent ranchers from marauding Shoshones and Wolfson’s efforts to steal their land.
In the process of establishing a just society, Cole and Hitch have occasion to muse on the writings of John Locke and Jean Jacques Rousseau (Cole calls him “Russo”) concerning the nature of law and government and whether man is virtuous in “the state of nature.” Parker’s art is demonstrated in the fact that the characters’ philosophical speculations are articulated in incredibly short sentences and with a keen ear for cowboy dialect.
This being a western, the book also features some well-wrought confrontations between violent macho men. A lot of nonverbal intimidation and tough talk precedes most of the violence, which makes it all the more entertaining.
Evaluation: This is a fun read from start to finish, especially if you’re a fan of cowboy westerns.
Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons, a member of the Penguin Group, 2008