Review of Bull River by Robert Knott
By Tim Chamberlain
Beloved author Robert B. Parker’s Cole and Hitch series of westerns has another new entry, Bull River by Robert Knott.
We pick back up with our heroes, Marshall Virgil Cole and his somewhat more intellectual sidekick Deputy Everett Hitch, not long after their adventures in Ironhorse, Knott’s first foray into carrying on Parker’s western series that began with 2005’s Appaloosa.
One thing you can say about Knott’s books in this series is this: they are as dependable as the heroes they depict. You will get some surprises, but you can always depend on Cole and Hitch to navigate the waters safely. One might call this spare, a “man’s” story that is short on dialog and heavy on the action. The terse, meaningful conversations between Cole and Hitch were a hallmark of Parker’s books, and Knott delivers on keeping his heroes men of few words.
Our sidekick for this mission is “Captain” Alejandro, a relatively small-time Mexican bandit that Cole and Hitch are transporting for arraignment. He’s a fun character, and his reliable humor helps a story along that is short on lightheartedness. Alejandro is here to help navigate the twisting plot of family betrayal that leads Cole and Hitch to the river of the title. He’s also a prime candidate for redemption, but you will have to read Bull River to find out why.
While efforts to carry on a series by a deceased writer (Parker passed in 2010) are always fraught with peril, Knott is comfortable in his role. He adapted Parker’s original Cole and Hitch novel, Appaloosa
, for the big screen, and he has an obvious affection for both the characters and the western setting. Combine this with the fact that Parker had only written three Cole and Hitch novels before his death (as opposed to 39 Spencer novels and 9 Jesse Stone novels), and it seems less like sacrilege and more like a well-done tribute. Lovers of a straightforward western will not be disappointed.