5 stars out of 5
Read: U.S. marshals Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch.
Think: John Sandford's Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers in the Old West, where horses are rode hard and put away wet, proper ladies wear long dresses bolstered by frilly petticoats and the new-fangled telegraph is considered a cut above carrier pigeon (albeit begrudgingly).
Add in cold-blooded killers, loose women and seasoned lawmen whose questions rarely exceed four words (answers, just one), and you've got the makins' for a mighty fine shoot-'em-up novel.
This is, I believe, the ninth in this series started by the late, great Robert B. Parker, who passed away in 2010. I admit it's only my second - I read Bull River in 2014 - and it was 4-star-worthy. This one is the better of the two, IMHO, although I warn readers it leans heavily toward the grizzly. No question that it held my attention throughout; I had to fight the urge to stay up an hour or so later than usual to get it finished in one day.
Virgil and Everett have settled down in the small western town of Appaloosa. Virgil is sweet on girlfriend Allie, though not to the point of tying the knot. Thanks to a generous out-of-town benefactor, Appaloosa is an up-and-coming place, and Allie has just opened a dress shop - calling it Mrs. French's because she believes her late husband's last name sounds elegant.
Meanwhile, a dastardly man who goes by the name of Driggs is languishing in solitary confinement in a prison not too much of a fer piece from Appaloosa. His only solace, as it were, comes from reading the Bible the prison warden's beautiful wife gave him (and other prisoners) - and his favorite is The Book of Revelation (aha moment: wherefore cometh the title of this book). Because of his reputation as a cold-blooded killer, the handsome, West Point graduate Driggs is given a wide berth by the other prisoners. But then one night the unthinkable happens; Driggs and a handful of other prisoners escape, kidnapping a woman in the process. Finally, he's free - and he's hell-bent on tracking down the men who, during a heist of major proportions, betrayed him, left him for dead and are the reason he's spent so many years behind bars.
It is then that Virgil and Everett are called in to take up the chase - and what a chase it is. Every single one of the escapees is as dangerous as they come, although clearly Driggs holds the top spot in the bad guy department. The two marshals will have to muster up all the investigative skills they have to find and capture their targets - and dead or alive matters not. Ultimately, the trail to Driggs leads back home, but can they get there in time? I won't spill the beans other than to say there's more than one twist near the end that I didn't see coming.
Robert B. Parker's Revelation by Robert Knott (G.P. Putnam's Sons, February 2017); 333 pp.