New Mexico Territory, 1882: two itinerant lawmen walk their horses down the long, shale-scattered slope into the frontier town of Appaloosa. Below them, lies rancher Randall Braggs' new fiefdom. Ever since he gunned down Appaloosa's marshal, Braggs and his men have owned the town, stealing, beating, murdering with impunity - living off it like coyotes feeding off a dead buffalo carcass. Summoned by Appaloosa's oppressed aldermen, Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch are here to restore the rule of law. They've done it before, they know what to do only too well: shoot quick, shoot clean, reload. But they aren't the only new arrivals in town. The enigmatic Mrs Allison French has stepped off the train with only a dollar to her name, a keen sense of survival and a good eye for a strong man. Finding one isn't going to a problem - Appaloosa is full of them: Cole, Bragg, Hitch. The problem is that Allie French isn't afraid to hedge her bets...and that Virgil Cole's heart isn't as steady as his gun hand. Appaloosa is an intelligent, emotionally profound novel, told in bone-clean prose wryly leavened with whip-sharp dialogue.
It's deeply satisfying on four levels: one, it's a well-told historical adventure and a modern re-interpretation of a classic theme; two, it's an ode to unassailable friendship; three, it's a subtle love story between two profoundly flawed people; and four, the way Parker writes, you'd swear the pages turn themselves.
Robert B. Parker has long been acknowledged as the dean of American crime fiction. His crime novels featuring wise-cracking private-eye Spenser have earned him a devoted following and critical acclaim, while his standalone novels continue to hit the American bestseller lists on publication. At the 2002 Edgar Awards, Parker was named Grand Master of Crime Fiction, an honour shared with Alfred Hitchcock and Ellery Queen.
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