Everett Hitch and Virgil Cole ride (separately) into the western town of Resolution and deal with the trouble that instantly springs up to greet them.
Amos Wolfson, who owns the Blackfoot Saloon, has already lost several bouncers, one to a smartly placed bullet, when he offers the job to Everett Hitch. Hitch’s approach to the position doesn’t sound very ambitious. He sits night after night in the saloon with a shotgun, waiting to see what develops, and passing the time by adopting such a protective attitude toward local members of the oldest profession that Wolfson sneeringly calls him “Fucking Saint Everett of the Whores.” For all of Hitch’s sentimentality, his tactics are highly effective against Koy Wickman, the weaselly provocateur who works for copper-mine owner Eamon O’Malley. In no time at all Wickman’s been retired, buried and replaced by the fearsome twosome of Cato Tillson and Frank Rose. When Virgil Cole arrives and decides to throw in with his old friend (Appaloosa, 2005) once more, the stage seems set for a showdown between the two legendary pairs of gunslingers as they eye each other from the saloons they’ve signed on to keep orderly. But Parker, in a pleasing twist, allows all four to sidestep the turf war between Wolfson and O’Malley for the land and limited wealth of Resolution, and to join forces against Wolfson’s company store, which has been squeezing them dry. Cole calmly predicts that Wolfson will dismiss his inconveniently activist gunslingers only after he’s found replacements prepared to stand against them, and that’s exactly what happens.
Jettisoning the increasingly feeble mysteries that have been the weakest part of his recent thrillers (Stranger in Paradise, 2008, etc.), Parker focuses on what he does best—ritualistically clipped dialogue and manly posturing—and serves up a reminder of just how much hardboiled fiction owes the Western.