Author Robert B. Parker was one of the leading names in literature before his untimely passing at the age of seventy-seven in 2010. His Jessie Stone novels alone made him one of the most revered names in modern crime fiction. When he released what was only his second Western novel in his long career as a writer, no one ever would have thought that this prolific writer would churn out two more equally enjoyable stories about Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch before his passing. But he did. And now, even though he is no longer with us, another has come along and maintained Parker’s legacy with his own take on the adventures of Virgil and Everett.
In the latest of Virgil and Everett’s adventures, fellow movie maker turned author Robert Knott has taken what Robert B. Parker started in Appaloosa and advanced it even more. Knott actually helped bring the big screen adaptation of Appaloosa to life. So it was a natural decision to have him pen this latest installment in the pair’s ongoing story. Long-time Parker fans will largely enjoy this book as Knott has taken seriously the adage that if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. It has managed to do this in a couple of ways. First and foremost Knott has found success here thanks to the continued simple dialogue and the short chapters for which Parker came to be known in his life. The short chapters and the simple dialogue are what kept readers so engaged with Parker’s previous stories. The same has been done here. Knott has written the story’s chapters in such fashion that readers won’t want to put the book down for an instant. Each chapter leaves readers with another new cliffhanger. That Knott managed to accomplish this is a tribute not just to himself, but also to Parker’s legacy, too.
The combination of the story’s short chapters and simple dialogue go a long way toward making Ironhorse a huge success. Had he not written the story how he did, Knott might have found himself getting bogged down and allowing the story to simply drag on aimlessly. Thankfully though, that doesn’t happen. Instead what audiences get is a quick moving story that starts off simply with a train robbery and becomes something even deeper that neither Virgil nor Everett nor readers would have seen coming. The whole thing really plays out like a classic Western. And tied in with Knott’s writing style, it makes for a Western that audiences new to the adventures of Virgil and Everett will enjoy just as much as those who have followed the pair’s outings from the very beginning.
As has already been mentioned, the manner in which Knott wrote this latest story makes it a quick and simple read. It could just as easily be seen on the big screen as Appaloosa. It truly is that easy to see the story playing out in one’s own mind as one reads the chapters that are typically no longer than four or five pages at the most in general. Even Knott himself noted in an interview much the same sentiment, noting that he would like to see this latest installment in Virgil and Everett’s story hit the big screen one day. Before that can happen though, Parker’s fans can only hope that Knott will bring the series’ previous trio of stories to the big screen first. And with any luck, it will happen; especially being that Hollywood is currently more comfortable churning out sequels than single, stand-alone stories. The current climate of the movie industry makes this franchise perfectly timed for a new life.
Working the series’ previous stories to the big screen would not only entertain audiences. It would also offer more than enough time for Knott to pen the next story of Virgil and Everett. For those who have yet to read this joy of a book, Knott expertly leaves the story wide open for yet another installment. As a matter of fact, Knott even has noted that he has already begun work on Virgil and Everett’s next adventure. Surely with the success of this latest novel tied in to Parker’s own previous works, one can only hope that said new novel won’t take too long to be released to readers. Ironhorse is available now in stores and on all e-readers.
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