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Robert B. Parker's Bull River (A Cole and Hitch Novel) Hardcover – January 7, 2014

3.9 out of 5 stars 296 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

This is Knott’s second entry in the late Parker’s western series, following Ironhorse, published earlier this year (Knott also wrote the screenplay for Appaloosa, the Ed Harris vehicle drawn from an earlier Parker western). Here lawmen Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch return for another adventure, mouthing their clipped dialogue that wobbles between droll asides and self-parody. They capture and bring in the dangerous Alejandro Vasquez, accused of two murders. But simultaneously, there’s a bank robbery, with the bank president making off with the loot, though only because the real criminal holds his wife hostage. The two are brothers, and ultimately they lead Virgil and Everett into Mexico. But first comes Virgil and Everett’s clever detective work and, of course, considerable shooting. The lawmen spring Alejandro, who provides mysterious insights concerning the brothers, and journey to Veracruz, where a showdown looms, though not before Virgil, Everett, and Alejandro gun down some Federales. Knott seems to enjoy himself in Mexico and portrays the country vigorously. His story is almost all dialogue, so it reads lightning fast, and it’s certainly suspenseful. --John Mort


Praise for the Cole-Hitch Series“Clever detective work and considerable shooting...it reads lightning fast...suspenseful.”
Booklist on Robert B. Parker's Bull River 

"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

“A welcome second edition to the return of these delightful western characters.”
The Oklahoman on Robert B. Parker's Bull River 

“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

 “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

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 on on Robert B. Parker's Ironhorse


Product Details

  • Series: A Cole and Hitch Novel
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons; 1st edition (January 7, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399165266
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399165269
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.4 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (296 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #185,281 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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It's difficult to review a book by a fellow trying to write like somebody else, but the increasingly popular practice by authors and their estates of hiring lesser-known talents to carry on their work makes that necessary. In "Bull River", Robert Knott attempts to copy the style of the late Robert B. Parker and tell a tale of Marshalls Cole and Hitch, a series Parker began shortly before his death. But Knott is NOT Parker. Robert Parker spent years developing a spare style that moved the story along quickly while still developing characters and telling the whole story. It was like jazz, with a few well-chosen words of dialogue covering what other authors would spend whole paragraphs explaining. Mr. Knott tries to capture Parker's style, but is unsuccessful. His book feels like what it is: a lesser talent's attempt to copy a master.

To the story: Marshall Virgil Cole and Deputy Everett Hitch deliver a prisoner, Captain Alejandro, to San Cristobal. They learn the bank has been robbed, apparently by the bank president, and he and his wife have escaped with the funds. Cole and Hitch are asked to investigate, and, although bank president Henry Strode soon turns up, he has been badly beaten and is in a coma, near death. Cole and Hitch soon learn that the bank president is not whom he appeared to be, just as he regains consciousness and escapes. Their prisoner, Alejandro, knows his real name, and claims to know where he will go with the money; but will only share the information if Virgil and Everett take him with them on the hunt. The three men travel into Mexico to apprehend the thieves.

I found the pacing of this book very uneven, and the dialogue difficult to read. The story was pretty unbelievable and i kept waiting for explanations that never came. I won't read another book in this series.
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Format: Hardcover
I can't finish this book. I have made it 3/4 of the way though because I love Virgil and Hitch, but they're really not here. They talk in monosyllables, and shoot fast, so you know that's who they are supposed to be. But there is not even a spark of Robert B. Parker's spirit in this book. It is very badly written, with tortured sentences you have to read more than once to figure out. Parker never did that to me in 40+ books. He was maybe TOO simple toward the end, but you didn't have to guess what he was saying. And at the point where I have stopped, the most irritating character has joined their hunting party (we are hunting, I think, for a woman who we've never met, and can't have reason to care about at all, because she may or may not have been kidnapped by a man who robbed a bank we don't care about either)...Alejandro, who refers to himself in the third person most of the time, and other times not. This is a character Spenser would have beaten to a bloody pulp, and I would have cheered to read it. But I think, in this book, I am supposed to kind of like him. Elizabeth doesn't like reading books that have characters so poorly developed that Elizabeth does not care about them even a little bit. Elizabeth suggests you give this one a pass.
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Format: Kindle Edition
The problem with continuing a series originated by a now deceased author is that people buying the new books presumably want something very much like the originals. Robert Knott has taken on the thankless task of trying to reproduce Robert Parker's Cole and Hitch series but he is not Robert Parker. The story moves along well enough as Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch, now Territorial Marshals, follow the trail of a robbery/kidnapping into Mexico. But in trying to produce Parker's spare dialogue his characters, especially Cole, engage in monosyllabic exchanges that seem like more of an affectation than anything natural. The book also picks up one of Parker's worst habits: using slightly larger type and lots and lots of white space. Why does a 342 page book need 88 chapters? Because each chapter produces about a page of white space, meaning that the story is actually about 260 some odd pages. People who just want to revisit the popular characters in a new adventure will likely enjoy this book. Those hoping for something on Parker's level are likely to be disappointed.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
We have such high expectations for sequels, especially when beloved characters are involved. And it is a great accomplishment for a writer to complete a manuscript -any manuscript- modeled after the classics. Think of Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, Jane Austen, Margaret Mitchell and the difficulty in replicating by those who inherited their mantle. Thus is the case with this ambitious but ultimately unsatisfying book. It's longer than the typical Parker, about double the length, so one hopes for a long and rich read, and a ramble with two of our favorite characters. Unfortunately, the names are present, but the characters are barely there. Virgil answers "Is," and "Does," in his usual abbreviated manner, but the dialogues go on longer and less conclusively or economically than Parker. Virgil is barely canny, and Everett -who still has a way with the ladies- mostly totes his big gun, wagging it threateningly. The psychology of character is absent, as are the occasional edgy angles on human sexuality. Parker had a way with well-chosen words, elemental concepts. Here we are subjected to long and glib exchanges that do not advance plot. One has a vague sense of the secondary characters, but little visual basis for them. And few juicy villains. Even the easy target of a stereotypical corrupt Mexican army officer is squandered. (Want to see a well-written bad guy? Check out the antagonist in Cornwell's "Sharpe's Tiger".)The voice of Alejandro smacks of racial profiling, and the self-referencing third person, always a good trick, doesn't resonate here: it recollects the erudite voice of the noble savage - (SPOILER ALERT) unfortunately, Alejandro turns into a nice guy at the end, an incongruous twist. Parker's clever use of small details in menu, landscape, character features are forgotten . Instead, this is a protracted walkabout interspersed with a few gunfights. I felt a bit like a kid on a long road trip. "Are we there yet, Mom?"
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