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Book review: 'The Bridge' is a refreshing visit with Cole and Hitch


February 11, 2015

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"ROBERT B. PARKER'S THE BRIDGE," by Robert Knott, G.P. Putnam's Sons, $26.95, 320 pages (f)

In "Robert B. Parker's The Bridge," Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch are waiting out a slow spell in Appaloosa when two things happen. The 200-foot wrought iron bridge being built across the Rio Blanco is blown up and a traveling troupe of entertainers rolls into town.

The bridge becomes their concern (as Cole and Hitch are the territorial law in town this town in the U.S. western territory these days) when it becomes clear that the local sheriff and his deputies are missing because of it.

When a mysterious, beautiful fortune-teller from the camp hooks up with Hitch, he starts to care more about the hocus-pocus that neither he nor Cole believes in.

Combined with Cole and Hitch's acerbic, self-contained wit and manner, this story fulfills Robert B. Parker's mission of providing interesting reading.

Be aware that there's plenty of rough language along with Western-style shootings and frontier justice. It's a little over-the-top in some areas, but it's usually when someone has committed a despicable crime and deserves a severe consequence. There's also some muted sexual content.

For fans of the late Parker, this book is a refreshing reunion with these cowboy characters who choose their words and situations most carefully.

There's an overriding concern through the story for justice to be served and the bad guys to be thwarted.

Author Robert Knott has kept his heroes decent while they rein in crime and those intent on profiting from deception and double-dealing.

"The Bridge" is an easy book to read but not so easy to figure out. Who is involved in the dynamiting of the bridge isn't revealed until the last few pages even though it's almost the first thing that happens.

And while it's motivating to solve the puzzle, there's also much to enjoy throughout about life in Appaloosa, dependence on the telegraph and keeping order from the back of a good horse.

It's good to catch up again with Virgil Cole, Everett Hitch and Virgil's girlfriend, Allie French.

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