Robert B. Parker's Bull River (Virgil Cole/Everett Hitch Series #6)

( 23 )


“Clever detective work and considerable shooting. It reads lightning fast...Suspenseful.”

Itinerant lawmen Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch are back in the saddle with guns blazing in this gritty, intense addition to the New York Times–bestselling series.

After hunting down the notorious desperado Alejandro Vasquez, Territorial Marshal Virgil Cole and Deputy Everett Hitch return him to San Cristóbal to stand trial. No sooner do...

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Robert B. Parker's Bull River (Virgil Cole/Everett Hitch Series #6)

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“Clever detective work and considerable shooting. It reads lightning fast...Suspenseful.”

Itinerant lawmen Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch are back in the saddle with guns blazing in this gritty, intense addition to the New York Times–bestselling series.

After hunting down the notorious desperado Alejandro Vasquez, Territorial Marshal Virgil Cole and Deputy Everett Hitch return him to San Cristóbal to stand trial. No sooner do they remand him into custody than a major bank robbery occurs and the lawmen find themselves tasked with another job: investigating the robbery of the Comstock Bank, recovering the loot, and bringing the criminals to justice.

But when their primary suspect is found severely beaten outside a high-class brothel and turns out to be using a false identity to escape a torrid past, it is Alejandro who becomes the key to their investigation. Cole and Hitch are soon on the trail of the money, two calculating brothers, and the daughter of St. Louis’s most prominent millionaire in a Cain and Abel story that brings revenge to a whole new level.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Territorial Marshal Virgil Cole and Deputy Everett Hitch have just brought a murderer to Citadel to stand trial when a major local bank robbery enmeshes them in a case that leads them right back to the felon who they just brought to justice. A fine addition to one of the most popular and beloved Western series ever written. Editor's recommendation.

Publishers Weekly
Knott continues the adventures of Marshal Virgil Cole and Deputy Marshal Everett Hitch in this latest addition to Robert B. Parker's series (after Ironhorse). Virgil and Everett capture the killer and gang leader Captain Alejandro Miguel Vasquez and bring him to San Cristobal. But before they can close this case, they are already involved in another. The Comstock Bank, they learn, has been robbed by its president, and all is not as it seems as Virgil and Everett uncover the convoluted conspiracy behind the bank's robbery. Unfortunately, for a thriller set in America's old West, this novel lacks action. Each of the short chapters in the first two-thirds involves tedious amounts of interrogation of the many throwaway characters Virgil and Everett sift through in their attempt to uncover the true robber. Furthermore, the novel is puzzlingly written from Everett's perspective. Virgil is the more commanding hero in the story, and Everett's perspective is so rarely and ineffectually used it becomes a superfluous storytelling contrivance. (Jan.)
Kirkus Reviews
Knott (Robert B. Parker's Ironhorse, 2013) spins another tale that unites Parker's two chosen genres, the Western and the crime story. No sooner have Territorial Marshal Virgil Cole and his deputy, Everett Hitch, hunted down "Captain" Alejandro Vasquez so that he can be locked in the San Cristóbal jail than there's a ruckus across town. According to unimpeachable eyewitness testimony, Henry Strode, president of the Comstock Bank, has made off with $200,000, most of it on deposit for Strode's father-in-law, St. Louis tycoon Jantz Wainwright. The search for Strode ends abruptly when he's discovered, beaten, breathing and broke, on the porch of Slingshot Clark's Cottonwood Springs whorehouse. It turns out that more than Wainwright's money has been taken; his daughter Catherine, Strode's wife, is gone as well. Clearly, there's more to this robbery than meets the eye, but Virgil and Everett are stunned to hear Alejandro Vasquez announce that he knows who the real robbers are and where they can be found. Can they trust the bandito accused of multiple thefts and murders to lead them to the culprits--especially once the trail leads to Mexico, where the federales are just as eager to clap Alejandro into prison as the Americans? And what will happen if, against all odds, Virgil and Everett actually catch up with their prey? The questions are a lot more interesting than the answers. But Knott pays out the complications with a sure hand en route to a denouement that provides fans exactly what they're looking for and not a smidgen more.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399165269
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/7/2014
  • Series: Virgil Cole/Everett Hitch Series , #6
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 192,113
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.60 (d)

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–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 Robert B. Parker’s Ironhorse, which made the New York Times extended list. 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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Read an Excerpt

***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected proof.***

 Copyright © 2014 by The Estate of Robert B. Parker


We rode hard up the road to the governor’s mansion. Virgil was on his chestnut stud, Cortez, and I was riding Tornado, a big black gelding with a white lightning bolt–blazed face I’d won in a game of faro near Odessa.

When we got to the gated entrance, two sentries tried to stop us, but Virgil flashed his badge and we passed on through. The setting sun flickered behind tall pecan trees as we galloped up the drive to the mansion.

At the door, a butler met us, and we entered the stately manor just as the huge grandfather clock in the lobby sounded off six echoing chimes. Virgil’s bone-handled Colt was on his hip, and I carried my double-barrel eight-gauge.

“I’ll have to ask you for your weapons, gentleman,” the butler said.

“No,” the governor said, entering the lobby.

“Evening, Governor,” Virgil said.

“These men are allowed to carry their guns wherever and when­ever they please!”

Then I saw her, Emma, coming down the huge stairs, wearing a pale yellow dress. She smiled at me.

“Everett,” Emma said. “So nice to see you again.”

“What about me?” Virgil said.

“Oh, silly me,” Emma said. “Of course it’s wonderful to see the both of you.”


At dinner, the governor stood and raised his glass.

“A toast! To you, Marshal Cole, and to you, Deputy Hitch.”

The governor paused. He looked to his daughters, Abigail and Emma, and then his wife, before he looked back over the top of his glass held up in the direction of Virgil.

“I am so very grateful for what you, Marshal Cole, and you, Deputy Marshal Hitch, did for me, for my family.”

The governor’s tone of voice was solid, sincere, and it resonated with a dignified inflection that most likely helped get him elected.

I looked across the table, and behind the arrangement of daffo­dils, bluebells, and grape hyacinths, Emma sat stoically, gazing directly at me as her father continued his toast.

After dinner, Emma excused us and led me out of the dining room.

“Where are we going?”

“Oh, no place in particular,” Emma said. “It’s such a beautiful evening.”

Emma kept her arm locked in mine as we made our way out the door and onto the back porch.

“Where is your fiancé?”

“He’s away.”

Emma stopped and turned to me. She placed her back to the post at the top of the railing that followed the steps down into the garden.

“Tell me something, Deputy Hitch,” she said with a lift of vol­ume in her voice.

“What would you like to know?” I said. “And it’s Everett.”

“Yes, Everett,” Emma said.

She said my name like I’d never really heard it spoken before. She put emphasis on the last three letters, as if she were speaking French.

“If you could be anywhere in the world,” Emma said, “where would that anywhere be?”

I thought about the question for a moment as she looked at me with an expectant, almost enthusiastic look on her face.

“Well, I don’t know,” I said. “I’ve never really thought about being anyplace other than where I am.”

“Oh, indulge me, Everett.”

“Well, okay, let’s see . . . the Rocky Mountains are awful pretty.”

Emma pulled me slightly closer to her and pleaded with me as if I didn’t understand the essence of her question.

“Anywhere in the world,” Emma said.

I looked down, studied the boards of porch for a moment, and then looked back to Emma.

“Let me think about that.”

Emma let go of my hands, turned, and walked down the steps as if I had disappointed her.

“Where would you be?” I said.

“Follow me, I’ll show you.”

The rose garden behind the house was enormous, with rows and rows of yellow fragrant roses. The night was warm, with a gentle breeze. It was a clear evening, the moon was almost full, and there was not a cloud in the sky. Emma moved ahead of me some. She turned back to me, taking my hand, and led me toward a gazebo at the far end of the garden. When we were in the center of the gazebo, Emma twirled and twirled with her arms raised above her head like a ballerina.

“So . . . what? This is it?” I said. “Here? This gazebo?”

After her next revolution, she fell into my arms.

“Noooo,” she said. “This is where I’d be, right here, with you, Everett, in your arms.”

She reached up, sliding her hand behind my neck, and pulled my head down to meet hers. From somewhere I heard the faint sounds of a guitar.

“If I could be anywhere in the world,” she said as she closed her eyes. “This is where I’d be.”

I pulled her to me, and our lips met. We kissed, soft at first, and then we kissed deeply. Never in my life had I felt a kiss like this, never. I thought, This must be what love is, and then I heard Virgil.

“Everett . . .”


“Everett,” Virgil said. I opened my eyes from kissing Emma in the gazebo on a beau­tiful night in Austin City, Texas, to find myself where Virgil and I had been holed up for the better part of a week; the second-story room in an adobe hotel overlooking the plaza of the dusty village of El Encanto, on the border of Old Mexico.

“I believe we have us a rummy,” Virgil said.

Virgil was sitting by the window, smoking a cigar and sipping on a glass of whiskey. Except for the light sifting within Virgil’s cigar smoke from the plaza, the room was dark. I could hear guitar music drifting up, with the muffled voices of villagers moving about in the plaza.

The night was hot and humid. Emma. That damn woman, I thought as I sat up. Another goddamn dream about Emma. I stretched the ache from my back and moved to the window to see what Vir­gil was looking at.

“Captain Alejandro,” Virgil said.

Across the plaza, seven men on horseback rode slowly into the plaza, and it was obvious Alejandro Miguel Vasquez led the pack.

Alejandro was much bigger than any of his seconds. He was at least six foot, handsome, with broad shoulders, long dark hair, and blue-green eyes. He rode a spirited tall tricolored medicine-hat geld with a thick, long blond mane and tail. Like the Sioux, Blackfoot, and Comanche, Alejandro claimed the medicine-hat protected him against harm.

The bandito was well known for his fancy Mexican attire: a large sombrero, tapered concho breeches, shiny spurs with huge rowels, and though it was hotter than hell out, he wore his trademark jacket: a silver-buttoned Mexican Naval Officers jacket with red velvet cuffs and a collar that he crossed with dual bandoliers. But he was no naval captain. Alejandro was nothing but a robber, a raider, an escaped killer, and now he was in El Encanto.

Alejandro was a wanted man. He was also a notorious gang leader and a mean sonofabitch. Virgil and I had tracked him down before and arrested him near Dead Man’s Ford on the Pecos, but he managed to escape the custody of two deputies in route back to San Cristóbal.

They were taking him there, where he was to stand trial for the very thing Virgil and I had arrested him for in the first place: the murder of two men he’d shot dead in the streets of San Cristóbal on Christmas Day.

Three months after his escape, he was apprehended by a friend of ours, a deputy named “Newly” Ned Newcomb up in Butch’s Bend. Within a few days of his capture, Alejandro got away yet again, and “Newly” Ned was found shot six times in the back.

It wasn’t long after his escape in Butch’s Bend that Alejandro got his gang back together and was instantly credited for a series of raids throughout the territories.

A week after robbing a Butterfield Stage between La Mesilla and Hatch, Alejandro and his desperados were said to have terrorized the border town of Santa Teresa, robbing every citizen and business in the place. The village was burnt to the ground before the looters set out for Mexico.

And now, here he was, at last.

We watched as Alejandro and his banditos circled around the stone water well in the center of the plaza.

“The captain and his crew,” I said.

“Yep,” Virgil said. “It goddamn sure is.”

“He’s returned to his port,” I said.

Alejandro and his men passed slowly by our hotel and angled toward a cantina across the plaza.

He sat tall in the saddle of a good-looking roan as his bandits followed him through the plaza. He acted as if he had not a care in the world, but he was looking at everything, taking everything in. They dismounted and hitched up in front of the cantina.

“Looks like Alejandro’s got a few less sailors,” I said.


“Maybe he killed ’em off himself,” I said.

“Wouldn’t put it past him,” Virgil said.

Alejandro stopped from entering the cantina. He turned and looked around the plaza. Virgil and I eased back in the dark of the room just as Alejandro looked directly at us. He continued looking in our direction until one of his men said something that made him laugh. Alejandro gave the plaza one last look, then turned, and the seven outlaws made their way into the cantina.

“Here we go,” I said.

Virgil nodded.

“High time,” Virgil said.


We had known it was only a matter of time before Alejandro would be coming to the village of El Encanto. We got a forewarning from one of his ruffians, a no-good named Javier who was arrested after the gang robbed the Butterfield Stage. A posse caught up to them and gave chase. Javier’s horse got shot out from underneath him, but Alejandro kept on the run, so Javier didn’t much care for Alejandro. He was more than bueno about providing us with the details of Alejandro’s soon-to-be whereabouts, and, sure enough, he was right.

Virgil knew we could not trust the Federales, and a posse would be hard to conceal in the small village of El Encanto, so we were doing like we did most of the time: we were going at this alone.

Virgil set his cigar in an ashtray and got to his feet.

“What were you moaning about?” Virgil said.


“In your sleep. You all right.”

“Don’t think I was moaning,” I said, and pulled on my boot.

“You were.”

“Just sleeping some.”

Virgil shook his head slightly.

“No,” Virgil said as he removed his holster from the back of the chair and strapped it on. “You were moaning. Thought you might be sick.”


I pulled on my second boot and moved over to the washbasin atop a pinewood chest. I poured some water into the basin, splashed my face, and changed the goddamn course of the conversation to our business at hand.

“How you want to go about this?” I said.

I could see Virgil’s reflection in the cracked mirror above the basin. He picked up the cigar from the ashtray and took a pull.

“Figure I’ll go down,” Virgil said, with a point out the window.

“Position myself over there in the plaza corner, where I’ll have a good look at the cantina. Make sure they don’t decide to go nowhere.”

I moved to the window to see where Virgil was pointing.

“You get to our horses,” Virgil said. “Get ’em ready to ride. Bring ’em up the back side and meet me over there.”


Virgil looked out the window a moment, thinking.

“Be a good idea we remove their transportation,” he said.

The seven horses were in front of the cantina. Four were on one hitch and three on the other.

“Walk ’em off,” I said. “Or shoo ’em?”

“Get ’em gone,” Virgil said. “Send ’em.”

I thought about what Virgil was saying as I strapped on my Colt.

“Be quicker,” I said. “Might get their attention, though.”

Virgil nodded a little as he took a tug of the cigar and then blew out a roll of smoke.

“You been in that cantina since we been here, Everett?”

“Have. Bought our whiskey, beer there.”

“Back door open?”

“Was,” I said. “Both times.”

“Was when I was in there, too.”

“You want to go in each way,” I said. “Mix things up a bit?”

Virgil nodded.

“Yep,” Virgil said. “We’ll see who’s interested in going to jail and who ain’t.”

“Sounds right,” I said.

I picked up my second Colt, loaded it, and put it behind my back, under my belt.

Virgil took a final pull on his cigar and loaded his second Colt. He secured it in the front of his belt, toward his hip.

I grabbed my eight-gauge and followed Virgil out the door and down the creaky stairs to the small hotel lobby. There was an old clerk sitting by a single lamp, reading a newspaper. He looked up at us, offered no smile, and went back to what he was reading. The door leading to the plaza was low. We dipped our heads some and walked out.

The plaza of El Encanto wasn’t crowded, but it wasn’t shy of people, either.

Since we’d been in the busy village we had stayed out of sight as much as we could. Two gringos residing in El Encanto for an extended period of time was conspicuous enough, so we avoided drawing attention to ourselves. When we did go out to get food, whiskey, or to check on our horses, we did so separately.

Our horses were stabled in a small corral with a lean-to shed a few hundred yards behind the plaza.

Virgil walked off down the boardwalk in the opposite direction of the cantina and I moved off between the hotel and the dilapidated mercantile building next to it and made my way out to the shed.

After getting our horses saddled up and ready to ride, I walked them around the back of the plaza and came up between the two buildings where Virgil was posted. I secured our animals there between the two structures and joined Virgil.

“You ready?” Virgil said.

I looked at Virgil. He met my eye.

“It’s what we do,” I said.

“It is,” Virgil said.

I gave Virgil a nod and we started walking across the plaza. We passed the water well in the center and continued toward the cantina.

“I’ll let go the four horses on the left hitch,” Virgil said. “You take care of them three on the right, then get yourself to the back. I’ll signal with an arm drop, and we go in with a five count.”

We did just that. Virgil quickly untied the four on the left. I untied two of the three on the right, slapped their rumps, and sent them running.

I reached for the reins of the third horse and a shot rang out. The bullet zipped by my head so close I felt it.

A second shot was fired; it was from Virgil. A heavyset bandito stumbled backward, discharging his pistol.

The bullet splintered into the boardwalk a foot in front of him, then he dropped in the doorway of the cantina in a hazy waft of sawdust and gun smoke . . . So much for plans.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 23 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 23 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 14, 2014

    more from this reviewer


    Please do not waste your hard earned money on this book. This is one of the worst books I have ever read! The man is dead allow him the opportunity to leave this world as one of the best writers of all time; and not take his craft of writing away with crap!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 5, 2014

    Recommend ( All Cole and Hitch fans highly recommended )

    Even though Parker did not finish, Robert Knott did excellent job finishing book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 20, 2014


    Never read western but this was a great series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2014

    Stop Ruining Parker's characters

    Waste of time like Ironhorse. Had to reread the first four in the series to remember what Cole and Hitch were really like. I'm done with this series and Spenser series. Glad Reed Coleman took over thr Stone series otherwise all the Parker series are going down.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2014


    Okay you must be making me try to cry Goldy! That is so heartbreaking! He covered her?! Oh crap well there went my composure. :,( Ha you don't have to post or anything since we're all unconcious/dead but I wanted you to know that that's ok. I didn't need a heart! :,,,,,,( ;) ~ Lilywolf &hearts

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2014

    Lilywolf (On Computer)
    The light gray tabby shecat trots

    Lilywolf (On Computer) <br />

    The light gray tabby shecat trots through the grass and glances back to see that Goldenstripe has decided to follow her. &quot;It will be much faster if we all go together. We can find Velvetstar and then we can all go home. What kind of friend would I be if I just left her out here! Besides I have a feeling that that cloud is much more dangerous than any regular cloud. Our safest bet is to stick together, not split up.&quot; Lilywolf pauses and licks Goldenstripe's ear. &quot;I love you but you really don't need to worry about me. I know the risks but I'm not going anywhere until I know that you both are safe.&quot; Suddenly a yowl so full of anguish makes the shecat whip her head around. She couldn't tell if the sound was Velvetstar, it was so distorted, but she didn't care. &quot;Come on!&quot; Racing away through the gorse, Lilywolf soon bursts into a clearing. Horror comes over her face as she sees the scene in front of her. The black cloud hovers over and in a pit covered with sticks and the humming noise has now become an incessant drone. Another terrified and pain filled yowl echoes from the pit and this time the tabby recognizes it. Without thinking about the cloud, the tabby charges forward. &quot;Velvetstar!&quot; Lilywolf leaps into the pit with no hesitation and that's when the pain hits. It felt like her pelt was on fire as the tiny flies swarmed over her. Clenching her jaw to withhold her scream, the tabby desperately skims the area. She didn't want Goldenstripe to follow. She knew he had felt weaker ever since his time as a loner. Lilywolf's eyes fall on the eaten fox and she shudders at the white bone that is starting to become visible through the flesh. Turning away, the shecat next spots a white pelt covered in red blood. Forcing herself to move despite the searing pain, she quickly reaches Velvetstar's side. What she sees almost makes her throw up. The torn flesh covered in flies is a burning red and the tabby can't even tell if her friend is alive. It didn't matter at the moment. She had to get them out of this place first. Grabbing Velvetstar's scruff in her jaws, Lilywolf drags her over to a stick propped up against the side of the pit. Digging her claws into the wood, she begins to haul them up. As she climbs her jaw clamps down harder on the white shecat's scruff every time a fly bites. Blood was now dripping down Lilywolf's pelt and she knew she didn't have much time. She would already be on the ground if it wasn't for the adrenaline creating a fire inside of her. With a massive heave, the tabby pulls them both out of the pit and staggers to Goldenstripe. She was barely able to stand and her body screamed for rest. But she couldn't quit now. Goldenstripe wasn't strong enough to carry them both. Realizing that some of its prey has escaped, part of the black cloud is soon on their trail and the creatures latch on to the cats, injecting even more poison. &quot;We've got to get to water.&quot; She croaks. &quot;This way.&quot; The tabby drags Velvetstar away towards pond she had spotted on their way here. The agony of the bites has increased as now the flies are ripping deeper into her flesh. After what feels like an eternity, Lilywolf spots the lake and she uses the last of her strength to nudge Velvetstar into the shallows, her head resting on shore. But while doing this, the shecat trips on a rock and falls. She can't help but let out an agonized screech as her wounds are presses against the stony bank. Lilywolf tries to rise but is unable to. Whimpering, she fights against black dots that swarm her vision as the pain become a numbing ache. But in the end, the black dots win. - Lilywolf ♥

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2014


    (Umm hey, you forgot Wolfspirit and co. thats okay I'll post again at camp!) Velvetstar's currently lifeless body burned with fever as Emberleaf moved it. (And Goldy said to go ahead and post for him so here I go...) <p> Goldenstripe doesn't move.... <br> (Tada!!)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2014


    She worms her way under Velvetstar and slowly gets to her feet. Her broken leg sears with pain, and she lifts it off the ground, struggling to keep her balance as she carries velvetstar, following mouse. She glances back at goldenstripe, fearing for him, then sets off. (Gtgtb bbt)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2014


    (Sorry Velvet! I'll do it at camp!) Mouse comes walking back to Goldenstripe, by now warn out. He still showed no sign of life and the chocolate tabby feared he was no longer living. Gently she heaved him up onto her back and started for home.

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  • Posted February 24, 2014

    This would be a fairly good read, if all the pages were there. B

    This would be a fairly good read, if all the pages were there. But between guessing about what I missed and filling in gaps with my imangation,The srory stays on track.

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  • Posted February 2, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch are so dang cool! I really enjoy

    Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch are so dang cool! I really enjoy these characters Robert Parker created and Robert Knott is continuing. The story has a historic Cain and Abel quality to it. Very well written and thoroughly enjoyable! Keep them coming.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 31, 2014

    Lost in Time

    I'm so glad that Robert Knott agreed with the Parker family to continue RBP's western saga of Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch. He tells an excellent story that doesn't leave any doubt in your mind that it could have happened. Again, as in his other book, the dialogue and language ring true to that era. He brings the characters to life and you're more than happy to ride along on their next great adventure. Thank you Mr. Knott for an enjoyable read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2014



    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2014

    I Also Recommend:

    I love Robert B Parker books, whether western or suspense.  But

    I love Robert B Parker books, whether western or suspense.  But this book really put me off.  First the profanity was  uncalled for in this book as the book would have been just as good without it.  I believe this book had some of Robert B. Parker style, but more of  Robert Knott , hence the vulgar language.  Good story  but not what I was accustom to in Mr. Parker's book.  Again, when some one is rewriting or finishing a book of a dead author you never know what you will get. 

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted February 19, 2014

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    Posted February 11, 2014

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    Posted February 28, 2014

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    Posted February 24, 2015

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    Posted March 2, 2014

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    Posted January 15, 2014

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