Robert B. Parker's Blackjack (Virgil Cole/Everett Hitch Series #8)

Robert B. Parker's Blackjack (Virgil Cole/Everett Hitch Series #8)

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by Robert Knott

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Itinerant lawmen Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch return in the gritty new installment of the New York Times–bestselling series.
Appaloosa, the hometown of Territorial Marshals Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch, continues to prosper, but with prosperity comes a slew of new trouble: carpetbaggers, gamblers, migrants, peddlers, drifters


Itinerant lawmen Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch return in the gritty new installment of the New York Times–bestselling series.
Appaloosa, the hometown of Territorial Marshals Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch, continues to prosper, but with prosperity comes a slew of new trouble: carpetbaggers, gamblers, migrants, peddlers, drifters, thieves, and whores, all boiling in a cauldron of excess and greed. And there’s a new menace in town: a wealthy, handsome easterner—and the owner of Appaloosa’s new casino—Boston Bill Black.
            Boston Bill is flashy and bigger than life. He’s a prankster and a notorious womanizer, and with eight notches on the handle of his Colt, he’s rumored quick on the draw. When he finds himself wanted for a series of murders, he quickly vanishes. Cole and Hitch locate and arrest him, but Boston Bill escapes once again. Another murder sets the duo on his trail, eventually taking them back to Appaloosa—where one woman in particular may, or may not, prove to be the apple of Boston Bill’s eye.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Knott . . . adds a new wrinkle here with a damn fine mystery running parallel to the western story. . . . Fine reading for western fans.” —Booklist
“This is the most satisfying of Knott’s Cole-Hitch tales, with a shocking double-twist ending.” —The Sacramento Bee
“Westerns need atmosphere as much as story, and Knott has a knack for six-gun verisimilitude, sketching the land and summer heat, the horses and the shopkeepers. Knott’s especially good with the prototypical Old West marshal, Virgil Cole, ‘perfectly present in the here and now,’ every inch stoic lawman. . . . His tale gallops along without confusing readers new to the series . . . A darn good way to pass an afternoon.” —Kirkus Reviews
Library Journal
Here's the eighth Virgil Cole-Everett Hitch Western, with actor/screenwriter Knott (who has home-on-the-range roots) having picked up the series after Robert B. Parker's death with three New York Times best sellers. Now, territorial marshals Cole and Hitch contend with a new troublemaker in the town of Appaloosa: Easterner Boston Bill Black, owner of Appaloosa's freshly wrought casino.
Kirkus Reviews
Knott (Robert B. Parker's The Bridge, 2014, etc.) continues the inimitable Parker's Western series with marshals Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch caught up in the aftermath of a Denver policeman's wife's murder. Sgt. Roger Messenger has traced his wife's alleged killer, Boston Bill Black, down to Appaloosa territory, where Cole and Hitch keep the law. Messenger confronts Boston Bill, who's busy setting up a new gambling hall, and is killed by one of Bill's henchmen. Bill and two bodyguards flee. Cole and Hitch pursue, but in the chase, popular deputy sheriff Skinny Jack is killed. The marshals bring in the bodyguard who killed Messenger, with the other shot dead. But it's bounty hunter Valentine Pell who brings Boston Bill back to Appaloosa for trial. Hitch is astounded to learn that Pell is Cole's long-lost, and disreputable, half brother. More complications soon occur for Cole and Hitch. Westerns need atmosphere as much as story, and Knott has a knack for six-gun verisimilitude, sketching the land and summer heat, the horses and the shopkeepers. Knott's especially good with the prototypical Old West marshal, Virgil Cole, "perfectly present in the here and now," every inch stoic lawman: " ‘Tangled goddam web,' I said. ‘Is,' Virgil said." Other conversational exchanges, however, occasionally include idioms and phrasing seemingly too modern. Knott's a descriptive writer—he sees a lawyer as "a tall narrow man with thick tangled eyebrows"—and his tale gallops along without confusing readers new to the series. The undercurrent of the unspoken mutual attraction between Hitch and Virgil's common-law wife, Allie, continues to heat up the narrative, but this time Hitch takes comfort in the arms of the mysterious Daphne Angel, the gambling hall's bookkeeper. A tad off the bull's-eye hit by Larry McMurtry's Woodrow Call and Augustus McCrae adventures but a darn good way to pass an afternoon for Western fans.

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch Series , #8
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.40(d)

Read an Excerpt

Ruth Ann was running now, moving as fast as she could through thedense forest. The Comanche moon hanging directly above dimly lit herway through thick timber of pine, blackjack, birch, and maple.
There were no shoes on her bloody feet and what was left of her dresswas ripped, soiled, and hanging off her bare shoulders. She was dirty, withleaves and sticks tangled in her auburn hair. She glanced back as she ran.She was terrified, her face tearstained, scratched, and bleeding, and her eyeswere wide with fear and . . . then he awoke. It was not the first time RogerWayne Messenger awoke from this vision, this nightmare of Ruth Ann runningthrough the woods, and he was fairly certain it would not be his last.
Roger sat up a little and worked the ache from his back. His mouth wasdry and his head was pounding. With the exception of the dampness he foundin the corners of his eyes, the rye whiskey he consumed on the journey suckedhis body of all its moisture. His mouth was so parched his lips were stuck together.He sat up and looked around at the dark landscape passing by. All ofthe other passengers were asleep. He wished he, too, was asleep, but sleep wassomething he had not been accustomed to for some time. He dug into his knapsackand found his canteen and drank and drank.
Roger was a big, lean, and strong man with thick, dark hair that wasthree inches long on the top and cropped tight to the sides of his head. He wasnormally clean-shaven around his sweeping thick mustache, but at the momenthe was sporting three days of whiskers. He wore a brown herringbone suit thatwas usually pressed over a starched white shirt, but currently his attire wascrumpled from days of neglect.
When Roger stepped off the morning train in Appaloosa, he snugged hisbrown wide-brim with rolled edges over his square forehead and walked intotown. He stopped at S.Q. Johnson’s Grocery and bought a can of beans. He satunder the shade of the store’s overhang, opened the can with his army knife,and ate the beans using the blade. When he finished he went about the taskhe’d come to Appaloosa to accomplish.
He poked his head in the door of Cheever’s Saddle shop and asked the oldtimertanning a large hide for directions to his destination. Then he walkedseven blocks, turned south on Main Street, and went two more blocks to theconstruction site.
It was an impressive building. Three stories tall and at least seventy-fivefeet wide, with a second-story covered porch that had five sets of glassed doubledoors across the balcony. To Roger’s untrained eye the structure appeared tobe nearly complete, but the building was busy with construction workers.
Roger thought about just walking into the place, but decided he wouldwatch for a while, watch and wait. He was good at watching and waiting;it was part of his job, and now that he was here, he was not in any hurry.Better to be patient. Better to wait.
He stood across the street, watching all the laborers going about their business.There were painters on scaffoldings painting a second coat of white andcarpenters on the boardwalk, assembling wood pieces and going about othervarious tasks of measuring and sawing, remeasuring and resawing.
A team of mules pulling a flatbed stopped in front of the stairs leading upto the entrance with a load of hardwood. Roger rolled and lit a cigarette as hewatched a few of the teamsters unload the flatbed and stack the shiny planksneatly on the boardwalk under a wide leaded-glass window.
He thought about the amount of money it must take for an impressiveundertaking such as this. He had no idea, but then again, this line of businesswas something that Roger was just not all that familiar with.
Roger watched and waited. He moved off the boardwalk and found acomfortable spot in the narrow alley between an upholstery shop and a drygoodsstore, where he had a good view of the goings-on across the street. Hishead was still throbbing and he felt a little dozy, but he remained alert bynipping on the second bottle of rye he had in his knapsack and rolling andsmoking cigarettes. He had plenty of both.
At nearly ten-thirty a slender sorrel pulling a two-seater buggy with acovered backseat rounded the corner and stopped in front of the building. Anolder, portly man with bushy white muttonchops and wearing a flattopbrushed beaver hat sat in the backseat. Next to him was an attractive youngwoman wearing a plum-colored dress with a high collar.
They remained under the shaded cover, looking at the building for a longwhile. Then the man worked his way butt first out of the buggy’s backseat.
Roger smiled to himself as he watched the round man struggle to get hischubby frame out of the backseat. When he was out of the buggy and standing,supporting his stance with the aid of a polished black cane, he removed his hatand wiped sweat from his forehead with a handkerchief. The young womanremained in the buggy. She leaned out and her eyes caught a little sunlightbefore she sat back in the shade of the buggy.
“Come back, pick me up by noon,” he said to the driver, “Noon sharp.”
“Sir,” the driver said with a tip of his brim, and then clucked the sorreland moved off down the street, with the young woman still aboard and leavingthe portly man looking up to the building. He turned, walked a few stepstoward the middle of the wide street, stopped, then turned and looked back upat the building.
It was obvious to Roger the man wanted to have a full view of the building,wanted to take in all its grandness. The way the man moved and heldhis chin high reminded Roger of his own grandfather’s survey after a day ofstacking hay in the barn. But this man was no farmer. Roger thought by theway he stood with his fists on his hips holding back the sides of his coat,watching the workers with an appraising eye, that he must be the man withthe money, the man in charge or the banker that loaned the business the money.
Then Roger saw him, the man that he had traveled two days on the trainto locate. The man known in gambling parlors from New Orleans to SanFrancisco as Boston Bill Black.
Boston Bill came walking out of the building flanked by two smallermen. It’s not that the men by his side were in any way short or even belowaverage in size, it was simply that Boston Bill was unusually tall. Not unlikeRoger—Roger was tall, too—but he was a good hand shorter than BostonBill. His head barely cleared the top of the door as he walked out. He waswearing a fancy suit with a green vest that was adorned with a draping goldwatch fob.

Meet the Author

Robert B. Parker was the author of seventy books, including the legendary Spenser detective series, the novels featuring Police Chief Jesse Stone, and the acclaimed Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch westerns, as well as the Sunny Randall novels. Winner of the Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Award and long considered the undisputed dean of American crime fiction, he died in January 2010. 
Robert Knott is an actor, writer, and producer, as well as the author of the New York Times bestsellers Robert B. Parker’s The Bridge, Robert B. Parker’s Bull River, and Robert B. Parker’s Ironhorse. His extensive list of stage, television, and film credits include the feature film Appaloosa, based on the Robert B. Parker novel, which he adapted and produced with actor and producer Ed Harris.

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Robert B. Parker's Blackjack 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Sicilian 3 months ago
I love Robert Knott's continuation of Virgil and Everett. The stories are always interesting and the dialogue is a scarcity of words that fits in with the lifestyle on the frontier. There's always an interesting story to be told and with each new book, I feel like I'm coming home to family. I think Robert Parker would approve.
Buecherwurm161 More than 1 year ago
I was a First Read Winner of this book, and though I don't normally lean towards Westerns, I was intrigued by the books description, and I really enjoyed it. This was my first book in the series and I was worried that I might be lost, but other than not knowing some of the backstory it was easy to follow, though I was initially a bit confused on who was who, the dialog reminded me a bit of Tombstone, but that was fine since I loved that movie. I liked the characters and the storyline and I had a real hard time putting the book down. Now I want to find out how it all got started and I can't wait to get the previous books in the series and hope that they are just as entertaining. Great Read.