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Robert B. Parker's Ironhorse (A Cole and Hitch Novel) Hardcover – January 8, 2013

3.8 out of 5 stars 333 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Since Robert B. Parker’s death, various authors have tried to revive his Spenser and Jesse Stone mystery series with decidedly mixed results. Knott, who adapted the movie version of Parker’s Appaloosa, does better with the author’s western series starring maverick lawmen Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch. The pair’s latest assignment seems routine enough: escort some Mexican prisoners from Texas to the border. That part goes fine, but on the return trip, the train is hijacked by a band of desperadoes led by the notorious Bloody Bob Brandice, with whom Virgil has some history. Turns out the governor of Texas is on the train with his wife, daughters, and $500,000. Echoing Elmore Leonard’s Hombre (1961), Knott throws Cole and Hitch into one of those existential situations typical of the best westerns. Trouble arrives out of nowhere, and it’s up to the guys with the quickest wits and fastest guns to get out of it. Knott may not quite catch the staccato beat of Cole and Hitch’s understated dialogue, but the plot careers along just fine, nicely augmented by the wealth of nineteenth-century railroad detail. --Bill Ott


Ironhorse hits with the intensity of an eight-gauge shotgun blast… 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... Virgil and Everett's fates are in excellent hands.”
Tulsa World

"Robert B. Parker's legion of fans will be thrilled with Ironhorse.  Robert Knott, co-writer of the screenplay for Appaloosa - Bob's remarkable western- has penned the next great saga featuring itinerant lawmen Everett Hitch and Virgil Cole.   Knott's new novel reads just like vintage Parker and the storyline crackles with all the excitement and humor of what is a perfect continuation of the Hitch/Cole series. Parker fans are going to love it!"

                                                                                —Ed Harris, Academy Award-nominated actor

 Praise for the Cole-Hitch Series

  “Parker’s rightly known best for his mysteries.  That’ll happen when you create one of mystery fiction’s most indelible characters – the Boston private detective Spenser….You read Parker because he could tell a story and make you care about his characters. Blue-Eyed Devil only hones Parker’s legacy as an ace storyteller, in any genre, to the end.”

                        — The Chicago Sun Times 

“Add Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch to all the great characters that Robert B. Parker created over the decades to give us enjoyment and entertainment.”


“Blue-Eyed Devil shines.…a page-turner of the first order, and updated western that feels as fresh as anything out there….Virgil Cole never misses, not when it matters. Parker didn’t either.”

                                                —The Boston Globe

“More shifting allegiances, moral dilemmas and characters capable of change than Virgil and Everett’s fans may be used to.” 


“Hitch and Cole, reminiscent of the steely eyed, soft-spoken lawmen Randolph Scott played in the movies, speak volumes to one another with a few words and a nod of the head.”

                                                            —Associated Press

“Excellent.”           —Kirkus

“Classic Parker—exciting, suspenseful, fast-moving and entertaining.”        —Publishers Weekly


Product Details

  • Series: A Cole and Hitch Novel
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons; First Edition edition (January 8, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399158111
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399158117
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.6 x 1.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (333 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #131,555 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Yep, you read it right -- 113 *very* short chapters. I was really looking forward to this continuation of the Virgil Cole/Everett Hitch series, since they've been my favorite Robert B. Parker books, even more so than Spenser. Ace Atkins' solid and fun continuation of Spenser boded well, but I've seldom been as disappointed in a book as in IRONHORSE. The action moves at a snail's pace, and the most delightful part of the previous novels, Virgil and Everett's laconic dialogue, is replaced by two frontier chatterboxes, who just yammer on and on at each other and everyone around them, saying what they're going to do, exactly how they're going to do it, and what the results might be once they do. When the dialogue finally stops, the narrative tells us again in detail how they're doing what they just said they were going to do. In short, this feels like a novella excruciatingly padded to novel length. The sequences of moving trains and train cars go on like a slow freight, with Knott seemingly using every bit of research that he's so assiduously gathered, to soporific effect. Even the moments of violence, so sharp and shocking in their simplicity in the actual Parker novels, are lifeless. With its dreadful pacing and cardboard characterization,it's almost like an *anti*-Parker. This iron horse travels in iron shoes, and provides a flat and charmless ride.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
While reading this on my Kindle, I was struck by how chatty Virgil has become. He comments on anything and everything, and appears to be morphing into "Spenser". Sadly, this series has not survived the passing or Mr. Parker. Dialog is off, there are profanities and obscenities that are out of character (and wrong for the period), and the magic is gone. It's still an entertaining read, but nowhere near the quality of its' predecessors.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was hesitant about purchasing, and reading, the continuation of a series... by a unknown (to me) author... begun by the ever beloved (by me) Robert B. Parker. I have read every single book in every single RBP series. That being said, Mr. Knott has certainly done Mr. Parker proud! The continuation of the Cole/Hitch series is excellent. Ironhorse, the latest adventure of Marshal Virgil Cole and Deputy Marshal Everett Hitch, will have you chuckling, shaking your head, stomping your feet in anger at the bad guys and rooting for our fearless Western duo as usual. I sincerely urge you to make the purchase, give it a read and give Mr. Knott a chance. If you love this series, you will NOT be disappointed. I am so glad that two of my favorite characters will continue on thanks to Robert Knott. I hope to visit with Virgil and Everett again soon!
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Format: Hardcover
I have read all of Robert Parker's books about Jesse Stone, Sunny Randall, and Virgil and Everett. I have less than a dozen Spenser books left to read. I was sad to see Parker die, but very pleased with Ace Atkins, Michael Brandman, and now Robert Knott for continuing the series. Of all of the Parker series, there was no question for me that Parker's westerns were the slowest. Knott changed that with 'Ironhorse.' I couldn't put it down and read it quickly over the weekend. It is a great story of Virgil and Everett chasing the bad guys and coming out, once again victorious. I hope this one will be made into a movie like Appaloosa was. I don't remember that Parker used the 'F' word in his western books. If I could have changed anything, it would be that Knott could have left out that word. Other than the unnecesary use of the 'F' word, it was a great story that anyone could read.
I would really like to see the Parker family find someone to continue the Sunny Randall series as well. Ace, Michael, and Robert, you have made Bob proud. Keep 'em coming.
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Format: Hardcover
I've read every Robert B. Parker book so I admit to bias but I suspect many people looking at this book are in a similar situation. Evey year I'd wait for Spenser, Jesse Stone, and Virgil & Hitch. Each year it was like an old friend(s) coming to visit. So far Jesse Stone has been adequate with potential. Atkins' Spenser was terrific. But Ironhorse is easily the worst.
First off, this story just doesn't fit into the timing of the other books. It's like some weird alternate timeline. I had to go to Wikipedia just to verify I was right. Thought I might have forgotten something.
Second, I'm pretty sure Virgil Cole has more dialogue in the first five chapters of this book than he does in all of Apaloosa on the whole. Virgil says what he needs to in as few words as necessary. He's a straightforward man that does what he says. He just rambles in this book. And as for Hitch, he feels more like a second rate sidekick simply there to tell the story rather than actually help move it along. No, these are not the characters I've come to know and love. Their "voice" is totally off. It's as if this book was written previously and they simple used to Find/Replace to put in Cole's and Hitch's names.
I certainly hope they find a different author if there is to be another novel. No offense to Mr. Knott but he just doesn't seem to get the characters...how they speak, who they are and most importantly why they do what they do.
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