Monday, October 06, 2008

Appaloosa, by Robert B. Parker

(hb; 2005)

From the inside flap:

". . . the untamed territories of the West during the 1800s. . .

"When Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch arrive in Appaloosa, they find a small, dusy town suffering at the hands of renegade rancher Randall Bragg, a man who has so little regard for the law that he has taken supplies, horses, and women for his own and left the city marshal and one of his deputies dead. Cole and Hitch, itinerant lawmen, are used to cleaning up after opportunistic thieves, but in Bragg they find an unusually wily adversary -- one who raises the stakes by playing not with the rules, but with emotions."


Like many of the better Westerns I've read, Parker's Appaloosa is lean and mean, with sentence structures that are bare-bones basic (but not simple-minded), and characters whose words and actions effectively echo their personalities and intentions.

Appaloosa follows a familiar plotline, with a few well-placed and highly-effective pseudo-twists to individualize the story. Between these pseudo-twists, Parker's no-frills writing style, and the engaging (or hiss-worthy) characters, this is a must-read for anyone looking for a burn-through, modern-day Western.

Check it out.

Appaloosa became a theatrical film release on October 3, 2008. Ed Harris, who also directed and co-scripted the film with Robert Knott, played Virgil Cole. Viggo Mortensen played Everett Hitch. Jeremy Irons played Randall Bragg. Renee Zellweger played Allison French. Timothy Spall played Phil Olson. Cerris Morgan-Moyer played Tilda. Lance Henriksen (who co-starred with Ed Harris in The Right Stuff) played Ring Shelton. Adam Nelson played Mackie Shelton. Bob Harris, father of Ed, played Judge Elias Callison.

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