Blue-Eyed Devil

[Amazon Link]

The latest and (alas) probably the last entry in Robert B. Parker's series of westerns featuring Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch. Paperback's due out in May; I got the hardcover when Amazon inexplicably put new copies on sale last year for $9.99. (Consumer note: it pays to check your Amazon wishlist every so often.)

It helps to have read the previous books in the series. After trials and tribulations, Virgil and Everett have returned to the scene of their first outing, Appaloosa. Things have changed: the town is booming, and there is (literally) a new sheriff in town, Amos Callico. Callico is ambitious and corrupt, having his beady eyes on becoming Governor, and eventually President. Virgil and Everett go the freelance route instead, signing up a number of saloons to provide protection services. It's an unstable situation, made worse by pissed-off Indians, an ex-Confederate general who's disappointed that Virgil shot his kid, and the appearance of a hired gunman who is both menacing and affable.

Virgil and Everett muddle through, as always, and this book is a fitting end to the series.


Last Modified 2012-09-27 11:39 AM EST

RED

[4.0
stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

I believe the proper way to display the title is all-caps. RED is an acronym. It stands for "Retired, Extremely Dangerous." Do not accept alternate capitalizations!

Bruce Willis is Frank, living a lonely life of dull suburban routine. He's Retired, but certainly doesn't look all that Extremely Dangerous, other than the fact that he's Bruce Willis. His only joy is in talking to a low-level government functionary on the phone: the lovely and equally bored Sarah, stuck in a Kansas City cube farm. Frank even tears up his pension checks so he can claim that they weren't received, just so he can talk to Sarah.

But one night, as it happens, Frank is targeted by a stealthy team of ninja-like assassins. Realizing that it would be a very short movie otherwwise, Frank dispatches them quickly. Also realizing that their conversations have also put Sarah in danger, he scampers off to KC and abducts her. Then they're off to find out why all the sudden hostility from His Federal Government. Along the way, he enlists the aid of some of his former allies and antagonists: his former mentor Joe (Morgan Freeman); an LSD-addled weapons specialist (John Malkovich); a Russian spy (Brian Cox); and a Martha Stewart-like British assassin (Helen Mirren! The Queen!). Needless to say, they soon uncover a vast and deadly conspiracy that is run from the highest levels of government.

(Aside: it's always run from the highest levels of government. Just once, I'd like to see one of these vast conspiracies run from the lowest levels of government: the puppeteer behind all the carnage is revealed to be… the assistant Water Commissioner in Sioux Falls, South Dakota!)

It's all very tongue-in-cheek and chock full of (PG-13) action violence. The cast is heavy with acting talent; I count 3 Oscar wins and 9 Oscar nominations. And personally, I think they should institute an award for Bruce Willis. ("And the winner for 'Best Bruce Willis Performance is… Bruce Willis!")


Last Modified 2012-09-27 11:38 AM EST