cover image Black Hats: A Novel of Wyatt Earp and Al Capone

Black Hats: A Novel of Wyatt Earp and Al Capone

Patrick Culhane, . . Morrow, $24.95 (294pp) ISBN 978-0-06-089253-1

The pseudonymous Culhane (aka Max Allen Collins) once again shows himself a master at the historical thriller. In 1920, 70-year-old Wyatt Earp, who's working as a PI in Los Angeles, is hired by "Big Nosed Kate" Elder, the widow of his best friend, Doc Holliday. Kate wants Wyatt to go to New York and help her speakeasy-owning son, John (fathered by Doc as he was dying), who has fallen afoul of a local tough guy, the young Alphonse Capone. In New York, Wyatt teams with another old pal, Morning Telegraph sportswriter Bat Masterson. It's a fabulous setup, and Culhane has all the skills and experience to bring these great characters leaping off the page. The bad guys may have organized gangs and tommy guns, but in the end these whippersnappers are no match for Wyatt's cunning and 10-inch-long-barreled .45. The exigencies of historical fact force Culhane into a tamer ending than some readers might like, but the sheer fun of riding along with the two old lawmen and their memories will run roughshod over any quibbles or complaints. (Apr.)