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Robert B. Parker's Buckskin


Robert B. Parker's Buckskin

I spent a lot of my early years with westerns: books, movies, television series, comics. I’m not sure what happened, but the genre has faded, though it hasn’t gone away entirely. What is still there remains very, very good. One of the best is Robert B. Parker’s Cole and Hitch series. Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch are U.S. marshals based out of the growing town of Appaloosa in the New Mexico territory during the last quarter of the 19th century. The series has been written very ably by Robert Knott since Parker’s untimely demise, and has flourished by leaps and bounds under his careful and studied hand. That said, it takes a quantum leap forward with the newly released BUCKSKIN, which is one of the best books published in any genre so far this year.

" of the best books published in any genre so far this year.... Cole and Hitch stand large enough in the goings-on that there is no danger of them disappearing in the mix."

The story opens with an enigmatic but hair-raising vignette involving an escape from jail by a violent young outlaw who is intent on making his way to Appaloosa on a mission to see his mother, who abandoned him in his infancy. In good and short order, the narrative reins are given to Hitch. He and Cole are quite busy here on two fronts. One involves a bit of jostling between two companies that are disputing a gold-mining claim. The miners from one company, the McCormick Brothers, have started disappearing, and of course, suspicion has fallen on the other company --- the Baptiste Group --- or, to be more accurate, the hired guns the Baptiste Group has brought on to protect their own workers from the McCormicks.

When one of the McCormick brothers winds up murdered in front of his own home, the business dispute truly becomes real. As if that were not enough, the city’s Appaloosa Days festivities --- an event arranged by Cole’s love interest --- are rapidly approaching. Meanwhile, the young outlaw continues to make his way to the city with vengeance on his mind, picking up an extremely unusual traveling companion with similar motives. A number of passions --- greed, envy and revenge --- slowly come together and then collide over the course, and beneath the surface, of Appaloosa Days. The echoes of each and all of the resolutions will no doubt be heard in future volumes of the series.

BUCKSKIN has a bit of everything. There is sex, violence, thrills and mystery. Actually, there are a lot of mysteries. There are a few murder mysteries, and a couple of motive mysteries as well, not all of which are resolved (and may never be) once the final sentence is read. As might be evident to longtime readers of the series, this latest entry is a bit more plot-driven than the earlier installments. However, the threads that weave their way through the book are interesting enough that no one should mind a bit. Even at that, Cole and Hitch stand large enough in the goings-on that there is no danger of them disappearing in the mix.

Pick up BUCKSKIN and discover why this is one of the best series in genre fiction.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on May 10, 2019

Robert B. Parker's Buckskin
by Robert Knott