The Old West. If you want to learn the real history, watch The History Channel---but if you want a crackling, fast paced and highly entertaining yarn about the mythic west, then “Appaloosa” by Robert Parker is the perfect way to spend a day.
Marshall Virgil Cole and his deputy Everett Hitch are itinerant lawmen (town-tamers) who are hired by the aldermen in Appaloosa. Rouge rancher Randall Bragg and his hired guns have terrorized the town and killed the previous Marshall and deputy.
Cole is a born killer who justifies himself by sticking to the letter of the law and the town must agree to let him make the laws.
Mr. Parker’s spare, terse prose sets perfect scenes with a handful of words and explores characters and motivations with intensity. Gunfighters, storekeepers, bar tenders, painted women, hostile Kiowas and people without a past come to life as members of the secondary cast.
Cole’s duplicitous and two-faced girlfriend is the wildcard that helps set situations akimbo.
The narrative gallops along to a classic western ending with a twist…while throughout Mr. Parker has something to say about the nature of men and women in the Old West.
With themes reminiscent of “The Magnificent Seven,” “Gunfight at the OK Corral” and “My Darling Clementine” the story of Appaloosa is elegant western escapism.