Saturday, May 9, 2015

Bull River by Robert Knott

Note: Bull River is based upon characters
created by the late Robert B. Parker.

I don’t enjoy posting negative reviews, and I rarely do so. See my essay on this blog titled “The Art of Reading” for my view on critiques. I previously reviewed Knott’s first pastiche, Ironhorse, while also explaining why I felt Robert B. Parker had lost his touch and became unreadable. I commented that Knott has an obvious talent and that I thought he might write a better book without following Parker’s dialogue heavy example. Well, this isn’t it. Bull River is 372 pages of inflated dialogue written in Parker’s style, published under Parker’s name and meant to make money from Parker’s once grand reputation. Knott fails to capture even Parker’s stilted attempt at abbreviated dialogue, and the characters all sound intellectually challenged. This book is all dialogue, apparently written for actors Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen who played Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch in the film adaptation of Parker’s Appaloosa. Bull River is lacking in fully realized scenes, characterization and action. Where I expressed enjoyment of Knott’s first Hitch and Cole book, I feel his writing has regressed into a self-conscious cutesy pie copy of Parker at his worst. There’s a difference between writing novels and screenplays, and this feels like a screen treatment, and a poor one at that. The excessive dialogue amounts to padding. This book saddened me. Robert B. Parker was indeed once a fine writer, and his early novels were wonderful, but it didn’t end that way. Meanwhile, books like this are force fed onto the New York Times bestseller list and as such I’m expecting someone to give it an award any day now. Knott’s next Parker pastiche is titled The Bridge and is available now. I’m not buying it or any others again.


  1. I haven't read any of these pastiche novel of Parker's characters. I'm one of those who gave up on Parker a long time ago. I really enjoyed the early novels in the series. Then they seemed just phoned in outlines. Spenser and Hawk became one-dimensional. And the less said about Spenser's girlfriend Susan Silverman the better.

    1. I agree Kurt. I had hoped Parker would wake up and revamp what he was doing but the books got worse as the years dragged on. Too bad Knott is emulating Parker at his worse.


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