July 16, 2001 12:00 PM

by Robert B. Parker

Beach book of the week


Actors from Henry Fonda to Kurt Russell have tried on Wyatt Earp’s boots. Now Parker, on leave from his Spenser detective series, delivers a fresh take on the western marshal. Swapping his usual wisecracking for a Hemingway-like spareness, Parker makes Earp not necessarily likable—no bully but at his best behind a Colt .45. Amid political rivalrics in Tombstone, Earp invites trouble by shacking up with a liberated showgirl reminiscent of Spenser’s squeeze Susan Silverman. The minimalist showdown at the O.K. Coral is almost anticlimactic, but Rhapsody’s psychological portrait is a sure shot. (Putnam, $22.95)

Bottom Line: Saddle up for western noir

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