Book Review: Blue-Eyed Devil by Robert B. Parker

This is a good old-fashioned story of the American West in the late 1800s with a couple of changes. The story has it’s bad guys, but also the not-too-bad good guys. The not-too-bad good guys are Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch. They are not exactly guns-for-hire; they’re more like lawmen-for-hire.

They happen to be excellent/best ever with their guns but they also have principles they call ‘rules.’ They won’t kill anyone just for hire and they’re very protective of women and children.

And, these guys are smart. Hitch graduated from West Point and they both read. They are also quite skilled at analyzing their opponents and using strategy in a showdown. Cole and Hitch make great characters for a good Western story.

In Blue-Eyed Devil Cole and Hitch have come back to Appaloosa to find that Amos Calico is the new Chief of Police and he’s hungry for power. He sees this job as a stepping stone to the governor’s office and possibly the presidency. Every thing he does, he does with that in mind.

As the story opens, however, he needs money so he extorts local businessmen for protection money. Some of the saloon owners refuse to pay the protection money and hire Cole and Hitch as their protection. This puts Cole and Hitch in direct opposition to Amos Calico.

There are lots of layers to this story. You will find comments on the treatment of Indians, women, politicians, and the Civil War. I especially liked the dialogue and the banter between Cole and Hitch. It was very clever and witty.

I listened to this story on an MP3 player. This is something new at the library. They only had about twenty titles but plan to get more. I liked the little player. It was much smaller and lighter than my ipod. The story was read by Titus Welliver who did a great job with the various voices.

The only thing I didn’t like about this story on audio is that I thought it should have been edited slightly. For instance, in all the dialogue there was a lot of ‘he said’ and ‘she said.’ With Mr. Welliver’s good use of various voices for different characters, the ‘he said’ wasn’t necessary.

This is the fourth books Robert B. Parker wrote in the Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch series (*See below). Unfortunately, Mr. Parker died earlier this year so this will be the last one we get to read. It’s too bad because I loved these two characters. They are unique in Western storytelling.

Even though you may think you don’t like to read Westerns, I suggest you give one of these books a try. They are very different from the old Zane Grey style that defined the genre.

I borrowed this book from the library so see if it’s also available at your library. If not, Blue-Eyed Devilis available at Amazon. (I am an Amazon Associate.)

All four books in the Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch series:

Appaloosa, 2005

Resolution, 2008

Brimstone, 2009

Blue-Eyed Devil, 2010

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8 Responses to Book Review: Blue-Eyed Devil by Robert B. Parker

  1. Rural View says:

    I have Brimstone to read. Cole and Hitch sound like Spenser and Hawk so I’m sure I’ll like it. I read Appaloosa so long ago, I’ve pretty much forgotten it but I do own it. Huge fan of Parker’s; I own most of his books.

  2. I don’t know that I’ve ever read a Western. I do like a good, multi-layered story, though, so I’d be willing to give this one a try.

  3. Tami says:

    Being a fan of anything by Robert Parker, I enjoyed this series, also. The idea of well-educated, well-read hired guns is unique – and yes, they are a bit like Spenser and Hawk.

    Our library has just started stocking Play-Aways, but haven’t had a very good response to them. Glad to hear you liked using the portable player. Maybe ours will catch on in time.

  4. Margot — I’m giving this recommendation to Bill! He has read the other Robert Parker books, but not this series. He felt bad that there wouldn’t be any more.

  5. I haven’t read any Westerns either, but wanted to comment on the Playaway experience. I listened to (most of) MATTERHORN this way (I was slow to listen and had to return the Playaway; will finish reading in print edition). Like you, I liked the lighter weight of this MP3 player (compared to the iPod), but I had a hard time ‘marking’ my place when I stopped listening. Did you find an easy way to do this?

  6. Staci says:

    I would love to read a western series and this one sounds smart to boot!!

  7. kaye says:

    sounds good–I haven’t read a western in a while.

  8. Woody says:

    A solid fan of Parker’s, I’ve enjoyed the comments here. Cole and Hitch remind me, too, of Spenser and Hawk as well as Gus and Capt. Call from McMurtry’s “Lonesome Dove.”. If you appreciate Parker’s outstanding dialog —as I do, especially in his Jesse Stone series, you might consider Cormac McCarthy, especially his “No Country For Old Men.”. I also felt bad about Parker’s dean. Still do.

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