Now that they’ve cleaned up Appaloosa, Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch have to contend with its new police chief in their fourth and presumably final adventure.
All white men are blue-eyed devils, but Amos Callico is more infernal than most. No sooner has he settled in as Appaloosa’s new chief of police, his authority bolstered by a retinue of 12 officers, than he begins to extort protection money from Lamar Speck, who owns the Boston House saloon, and Buford Posner, of the Golden Palace. Callico, who has his eyes set on the governor’s mansion and then on the White House, wastes no time in attempting to neuter the opposition by offering jobs to Virgil and Everett, now living a frontier version of domestic life with Allie French, the lover Virgil rescued in Brimstone (2009), and the traumatized former Indian captive Laurel, who won’t speak to anyone but Virgil. Naturally, the two gunslingers turn Callico down and promptly sign on as bouncers at the Boston House. The stage is clearly set for a climactic confrontation between the corrupt police chief and his minions and the unsullied heroes. Before that can happen, though, Virgil’s half-breed friend Pony Flores comes to town with his brother Kha-to-nay in tow. Pony has helped Kha-to-nay escape from prison, and trouble is sure to follow the pair. Despite the arrival of Pinkerton agent Dell Garrison, however, that trouble doesn’t take the form most readers will expect. Instead, Kha-ton-nay will ally himself with a party of wily Apache braves, and retired Confederate General Horatio Laird, whose no-account son Nicholas Laird killed in the early going, and his hired gunman Chauncey Teagarden will assume central roles. Rest assured that Virgil will get more opportunities to live up to his assertion, “Killing don’t bother me…Long as I follow the rules.”
More shifting allegiances, moral dilemmas and characters capable of change than Virgil and Everett’s fans may be used to. It’s a shame that this youngest of the late Parker’s franchises has to end so soon.