Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Blue-Eyed Devil by Robert B. Parker

Blue-Eyed Devil continues the saga of gun-slinging saddle pals Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch as they trade wisecracks and hot lead with back-shooting owlhoots and murderous Apaches in the town of Appaloosa. Cole and Hitch used to be the law in town, but now Appaloosa has a corrupt, ambitious, and deadly police chief named Amos Callico backed up by 12 rifle-toting cops of dubious background, and though Callico sees Cole and Hitch as impediments to his plans for extortion and high political office, his threats don't worry the boys much. Meanwhile, Cole kills the son of a prominent rancher in a fair fight, renegade Apaches plan an attack on the town, and a mysterious dandy arrives in town with a sinister agenda. Fortunately, Cole and Hitch are smart and resourceful, and there's trickery, gunplay, and throat-cutting until only a few folks are left standing. (Publishers Weekly)

Blue-Eyed Devil is the fourth installment of the Cole and Hitch western series.  If you haven't read the first three, this one can be a bit hard to follow as there are lots of references to previous events, so I recommend reading them in order. 

This was an easy-reading, fast-paced story that I enjoyed, but can't say I loved.  If you've read any of my previous reviews of Robert Parker books, you know I'm a huge fan of his style, but I'm afraid it just doesn't work for me this time.  The biggest problem was that the minimalist dialog and descriptions that I usually love left this story feeling superficial.  There wasn't any insight or emotion to make me feel a connection to any of the characters or get too concerned about what happened to them.  Unlike the Spenser series that started with more in-depth character development and progressed to the current bare-bones style, Cole and Hitch jump directly into the action without giving the reader any exposure to their motives.

For fans of pure action-oriented westerns, this series will be a success.  For me it was a pleasant diversion, but nothing to write home about.

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