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Gunslingers Eventually Meet Their Match
on June 12, 2010
"Everyone is given to covetousness;
And from the prophet even to the priest,
Everyone deals falsely.
They have also healed the hurt of My people slightly,
Saying, 'Peace, peace!'
When there is no peace." -- Jeremiah 6:13-14 (NKJV)
This brief series ends with Blue-Eyed Devil. Fortunately for fans of Robert B. Parker who are in mourning over his passing, the shape of where the series was probably going is clear by the end of this book. It's a nice parting gift.
The contrast between partners Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch, and their friend, Pony, and almost everyone else is enormous. The three men seek to do the right thing. Everyone else wants something that someone else has.
The story is a nice role reversal from the traditional western, the "law" is a big part of the illegal activities. As a result, Virgil, Everett, and Pony must walk a narrow tightrope while keeping their eyes open for hostile potshots.
Mr. Parker richly endowed the book with ironies, shifting alliances, and character flaws that are fatal in the ways that classical Greek dramatists appreciated. Even when standing up to tough men aiming to kill them, a woman can be a man's undoing. It's a story straight out of the Garden of Eden.
How can such a simple morality play work so well? That's what westerns are, and many modern novels are notoriously amoral. We crave for wrongs to be righted and justice to be done. Mr. Parker provides that here with a full house of laconic wit and challenging circumstances. Here's an example of the partners talking after meeting the newest hired gun in town.
"'Why'd he want to see you?'
'So he'd know what I looked like,' Virgil said.
'You think it's you?' I said.
'I don't think he was just being neighborly,' Virgil said.
'Anything personal?' I said.
'Chauncey Teagarden? Hell, no. He got no feelings. Somebody hired him.'
'We know who that would be,' I said.
'Probably,' Virgil said.
'We gonna do anything about it?' I said.
'We'll await developments,' Virgil said.'"
Be prepared for a quick read and a wild ride in Appaloosa.