After the final scenes of Robert B. Parker’s novel Appaloosa, fans knew the story of Everett Hitch and Virgil Cole couldn’t end there. Especially not with a movie starring Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen waiting in the wings.
Resolution takes up only a short time after the previous novel. Everett Hitch is still riding solo at this point and takes a job at the Blackfoot saloon as a security guy. I enjoy the relationship between Everett and Virgil, because that relationship is the bones of what Parker has stated will be a three-book series. I knew I wouldn’t have to wait long for the action to begin, or for Everett and Virgil to get back together.
Parker delineates his two principle characters very well. Virgil Cole is an unfinished man in a way. He knows what he has been but he doesn’t yet know what he will become. Everett Hitch, on the other hand, has no qualms about addressing what he is. His moral convictions are centered and steady, and he never questions his actions or his motivations for doing them.
The town of Resolution remains somewhat undefined and isn’t seated in the historical Old West. Parker seems content to just lay the town in where he wants to and sketch in the background and surroundings the way he did in Appaloosa. Given the story that he wants to tell is skeletal and action-packed, readers don’t need much of a history or true-to-life geographical setting the way Louis L’Amour and Elmer Kelton do them.
In no time at all, Everett finds himself neck-deep in trouble. As security man for the Blackfoot Saloon, he works for Amos Wolfson. Wolfson is intent on buying up as much of the town and surrounding land as he can, and he’s made enemies of the local ranchers and Eamon O’Malley, Resolution’s other financial baron who is also making moves at a major land grab.
Although Parker concentrates on the relationship between Everett and Virgil, he paints an interesting picture of an Old West town being born. The shifting fortunes of the populace bounce back and forth between Wolfson and O’Malley as each of them squares off to become top dog of Resolution.
Everett quickly ends up becoming recognized as a protector of women, starting with the prostitutes that work the two saloons, and spilling over into the domestic arena. He’s a definite man of action, but also of compassion, and that rankles the ire of Wolfson who doesn’t want the added aggravation. Still, Everett sticks to his guns.
The characters are simple for the most part, but that’s why I enjoy reading these books. Parker portrays Everett and Virgil as the same kind of men I grew up with in the small Oklahoma towns where I lived. I understand the values at once, even though a lot of people might think those men were more complicated. Virgil seems driven to understand more about what he’s doing and why, but Everett just accepts himself without question.
I think the duality between the two men, the places where they fit together so well, and Virgil’s imperfections that keep them apart, paints a pretty accurate picture of the differences between men of the Old West and of the New West.
The story is light and straight-forward. There aren’t any surprises in this one, but I had a good time and read it in a couple sittings. Parker fans will love the book and Western readers will enjoy it if they’ve never read anything by the author before.
I’m looking forward to the movie and to the third book in the trilogy. Seeing how Virgil eventually reconciles himself to his lethal attraction for Allie, the singer who has all the morals of an alley cat, should be interesting.