Robert B. Parker’s Blackjack, by Robert Knott ISBN 9781101982532
Five out of five stars
Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch are a pair of lawmen in the American frontier town of Appaloosa. It was a wild town but is now starting to receive an influx of culture and civilization as the law is taking control. Virgil and Cole are men that often speak few words and are like brothers. Unlike most western stories featuring two men, there is no leader/sidekick relationship.
A woman was brutally murdered in Denver and her police officer husband is in Appaloosa to serve an arrest warrant on Boston Bill Black. Black has two hired gunmen bodyguards and when the police officer reaches in his pack for the warrant, one of the bodyguards guns him down. Black then flees with his two henchmen and this is the opening event in a complex tale of intrigue, deception and eventual justice.
All through the story, Cole and Hitch express their doubts as to the guilt of Black, yet there is no real evidence other than a gut feeling based on their experience. Yet, they do what the law requires and Black is put on trial. A new major character is introduced, one that creates a bit of disturbance in Cole.
This is an engaging story that fits well within the Parker style, it could have been written by Parker himself. I found it difficult to put it down once I started. There is not a lot of gun and other violence, it is about the characters, their jobs and how they relate to each other. The murderer is eventually exposed and their identity was well hidden until the very end.