Masterson
by Richard S. Wheeler
Book Jacket
Kirkus Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780312870478 Keeping Wheeler's printing history straight is not easy, since in a 12-month period he's published Dark Passage, Aftershocks, Sun Mountain (p. 487), Flint's Honor (p. 754) and now Masterson, for a grand total of sharply realistic novels that goes through the roof. This is all good news, however, since Wheeler is among the two or three top living writers of western historicals'if not the best, provided you don't count strong stylist Loren Estleman (see p. TKTK). Some of the works on Wheeler's crammed publishing schedule, we've been told, were written earlier but had to wait for print. In 1921, celebrated ex-lawman Bartholomew ``Bat'' Masterson is writing a column for New York's Morning Telegraph when he's interviewed by Louella Parsons and Damon Runyon about his notorious past. (Runyon later re-immortalizes him as Sky Masterson in the short story that became Guys and Dolls.) ``Have you killed twenty-six men? Have you been charged with first-degree murder four times? Did you shoot down seven cowboys and bring their heads in a sack back to Dodge City? Have you owned cathouses?'' Louella asks. His life, by now outrageously overblown by Ned Buntline for dime novels, so turns Bat's stomach that he decides to travel with his wife Emma to the old towns where the stories began and straighten out his own history. Strong on character, and as factual as possible, of course, as it moves smartly along, although wife Emma, about whom little is known, is largely a device for exposition.
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