Robert B. Parker died in 2010 but his stories and characters live on with authors Reed Farrel Coleman and Robert Knott. Parker’s Western series is now being written by Knott with his latest, The Bridge, the third installment.
The plot brings back the characters Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch to Appaloosa. After a sheriff and his deputies go missing territorial Marshals Cole and Hitch are asked to investigate the bombing of a railway bridge under construction that spans a gorge in the Rio Blanco River. What follows is a ‘who done it’ and ‘who might profit from the bridge being blown up?’
It is always interesting to understand the motivations for continuing a series once the author has passed away. Knott noted, “I never wrote with Parker, but met him when I adapted the western novel, Appaloosa, for a feature film in 2007. I wrote the screenplay with Ed Harris who starred in it. I tried to maintain the style of Robert by writing Parkeresque prose, short chapters, and maintaining the character’s attributes. Of course I am not Robert Parker so at the end of the day these are my stories.”
Knott does not feel he is a “rookie” to the western style since he grew up in Oklahoma and has acted in many western films and TV shows. “My grandparents had a folding tent show that followed the wheat harvest, going through the mid-West. I learned the language and the culture of these people. I had hands on experiences when being in shows such as ‘Desperado,’ the ‘Young Rider’ series, and ‘Wild Bill.’”
His other job, working in the oil fields, also influenced Knott. “My fellow workers helped me to illuminate the world of the West. We would communicate without saying a word. I was able to write this unspoken camaraderie with the characters Cole and Hitch. Both these characters have a code they live by, although Virgil’s attitude is ‘my way or the highway.’ He once told Everett, ‘feelings get you killed.’ Everett is more sensitive, has more feelings, and is more educated than Virgil.”
The author hopes that readers will see this novel as an adventure story where they can escape and get a snapshot of days gone by. He wants people to go on the same journey he does when writing the characters and plots as a crime is solved.