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The Branch and the Scaffold by Loren D.…
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The Branch and the Scaffold

by Loren D. Estleman

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The biggest thing this book is lacking (besides excitement) is a sense of place. I'm from Arkansas, I learned about Judge Parker in school, I've been to the historic site in Ft. Smith. Yet I felt so disconnected from the events and people and, more importantly, the landscape in this particular book. It could have taken place anywhere and nowhere. ( )
  JessicaReadsThings | Nov 12, 2013 |
This is the story of Judge Isaac Parker, who was sent to Fort Smith, Arkansas, to relieve a corrupt judge and try to bring some stability to the unruly and lawless territory. I regret the timing of this read; I was listening to the audio whilst working on something else and my mind was too divided. I need a re-read to do an adequate review. The story did cover the judge’s time in Fort Smith, his dealings with Belle Starr and Cherokee Bill, among many others. He got the nuts and bolts right, and the setting was well done. I’m reserving judgment on characterization until my re-read. I did enjoy the narration of the audio version of this book. ( )
  countrylife | Jun 28, 2012 |
Loren Estleman was on a recommendation list I've been reading through for both his hard-boiled detective fiction and his Westerns. I read his mystery The Left-Handed Dollar and by and large was impressed with his snappy dialogue and evocative prose. So when I saw this book, one of his westerns with a blurb boasting the author is a "five-time Spur-Award winner" I expected something impressive. Estleman also picked a fascinating real-life figure to center this novel on--the infamous hanging judge, Isaac Parker.

Unfortunately this book fast sagged and made my eyes glaze over. The book begins with Parker and his wife Mary arriving at Fort Smith in May of 1875. Before a month is out, the newly appointed judge has sentenced six men to death--bursting into tears upon pronouncing sentence. I'm assuming the author got this detail from history--in his afterward he claims all his characters are historical. That detail hints at a complicated man--but the novel only skims the surface and Parker never comes through to me as a person. Short as this book was--about 250 pages--I lost interest before half-way through. Seen through several points of view, from the prosecutor, executioner, jailor and a marshall among others, I got much more detail (than I ever wanted) about how to prepare rope suitable for hanging men than any insight into the human beings in this tale--particularly Judge Parker. ( )
  LisaMaria_C | Jul 3, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0765315998, Hardcover)

When Judge Isaac Parker first arrived in Fort Smith, Arkansas, the town had thirty saloons and one bank. Inheriting a corrupt court and a lawless territory roughly the size of Great Britain, he immediately put the residents on notice by publicly hanging six convicted felons at one time. For the next two decades, his stern and implacable justice brought law and order to the West . . . and made him plenty of enemies.

As the sole law on the untamed frontier, Parker tried civil and criminal cases throughout the Western District of Arkansas and the Indian Nations. Only God and the president had the power to challenge Parker. His severe judgments scandalized Washington and the Eastern press, and took an onerous toll on his private life, but the “Hanging Judge of the Border” never flinched from his duty. Over the years, he and his marshals, dubbed “Parker’s Men,” ran up against some of the most colorful and dangerous outlaws the West had to offer, including the notorious Dalton Gang; Belle Star, the Bandit Queen; the murderous Cherokee Bill; and Ned Christie, a vengeful Indian who carried on a private war against the U.S. government for seven years.

The Branch and the Scaffold is a fascinating depiction of Judge Parker’s life and times, as told by a five-time winner of the Spur Award.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:07 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A tale based on the true story of the legendary Hanging Judge finds Isaac Parker inheriting a corrupt court and lawless territory in Fort Smith, Arkansas and enforcing severe punishments in his effort to bring order to the early American west.

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