Review: 'Robert B. Parker's Iron Horse' by Robert Knott
BY JEFF NIX Special to the Tulsa World
Sunday, January 13, 2013
1/13/13 at 3:15 AM
This sequel to Robert B. Parker's acclaimed novel (and later motion picture) "Appaloosa" hits with the intensity of an eight-gauge shotgun blast.
That's the preferred weapon of Deputy Marshal Everett Hitch, sidekick to legendary U.S. Marshal Virgil Cole, two lawmen of few words and much hot lead who made their debut in "Appaloosa."
"Ironhorse" catches up with Virgil and Everett outside their fictional hometown of Appaloosa, which is somewhere in north Texas, on a train rolling through the Kiamichi Mountains in southeast Oklahoma, probably somewhere around current Broken Bow, shortly before the Land Rush into Oklahoma and Indian Territories.
A large gang of nasty badmen choose poorly when they decide to rob the train Virgil and Everett are aboard. It had looked good on paper, as the robbers knew through an inside tip that the governor of Texas, his wife and two 20-something daughters were on the train, with about $500,000 in cash, to buy some Indian Territory Land for Texas.
The only security for the governor's party was a couple of Pinkertons, which wouldn't be much of an impediment to a gang of 20 or so train robbers. But the gang hadn't counted on Virgil and Everett being on board.
What follows is a series of gunfights between Virgil and Everett and various outlaws, as the odds against them begin to be whittled down.
But enough of the outlaws are left to continue the shoot-em-up for several days, in several locales, as the robbers manage to detach several railroad cars. As the planned robbery is foiled, the remaining gang kidnap the governor's daughters and demand a ransom.
It is not clear who the mastermind of the outlaw gang is, and there are several candidates in the marshal's mind. So a mystery ensues that Virgil and Everett must solve if the hostages are to come back alive.
There is a good bit of deductive sleuthing, followed by a prolonged search for the kidnappers and hostages, in which Virgil and Everett are aided by a supporting cast of characters who, it will be simply said, are "different." Not to give away the ending, but much more shooting occurs, and, how shall we say, the gang is no more, and Virgil and Everett are.
"Ironhorse" is written by first-time novelist Robert Knott, taking over this series by the prolific Robert B. Parker, who died in 2010 (other writers have already produced new works in Parker's series of detective stories featuring his private eye Spenser and police chief Jesse Stone).
Knott was co-writer of the screenplay for the film version of "Appaloosa," and it's obvious from "Ironhorse" that Virgil and Everett's fates are in excellent hands.
Local readers will also enjoy the descriptions of 19th-century Oklahoma, as well as the joys and troubles of rail travel during that time, in addition to a rip-snorting tale full of sparse dialogue seasoned with wit as dry as an Oklahoma prairie wind and enough flying bullets and buckshot to fill a caboose.
‘ROBERT B. PARKER’S IRON HORSE’
By Robert Knott
G.P. Putnam’s Sons, $26.95
Original Print Headline: The adventures continue
Jeff Nix is a Tulsa attorney, and a cowboy in his dreams.
Viggo Mortensen plays Deputy Marshal Everett Hitch (left), and Ed Harris stars as U.S. Marshal Virgil Cole in the film "Appaloosa," based on the Robert B. Parker novel of the same name. The screenplay for the 2008 film was co-written by Harris and Robert Knott. The characters continue their adventure in a sequel, "Ironhorse," written by Knott. LOREY SEBASTIAN/Warner Bros.