cover image Doc Holliday's Gone

Doc Holliday's Gone

Jane Candia Coleman. Five Star (ME), $21.95 (261pp) ISBN 978-0-7862-1841-7

Modest in aim and simple in execution, this pair of diminutive (barely novella-length), well-researched fictionalized biographies by Coleman (Moving On; I, Pearl Hart) bring to life two authentic, true-grit Wild West heroines. The first, Mary Katherine Horony, alias Kate Elder--aka Big Nose Kate--the rejected prostitute lover of famous Tombstone, Ariz., marshal Wyatt Earp, earned her doubtful way into the history books as the devoted inamorata of notorious Doc Holliday during the final years of his life after the infamous shoot-out at the OK Corral. Intertwined with the series of flashback vignettes that reveal her life with the storied Holliday before and after the ill-famed gunfight are Kate's little-known adventures during her remaining 40-plus years as a restaurateur, bakery operator and frontierswoman. The narrative describes her marriage and divorce from the alcoholic miner George Cummings and the ensuing three decades with her common-law husband, hardscrabble prospector Jack Howard. The second novel, entitled Mrs. Slaughter, recounts the romantic history of Viola Howell, the 18-year-old daughter of rancher Amazon Howell, who earned second place on Governor Lew Wallace's (fabled author of Ben Hur) most wanted list of treacherous rustlers and murderers he vowed to jail or run out of New Mexico territory. Younger than John Slaughter by 20 years, Viola nonetheless persists in loving the fearless desperado. Featuring rowdy towns, bloodthirsty Indians, cutthroat outlaws, bad weather, and disease, these unpretentious profiles sparkle with affecting images of the heroic (and not so heroic) men and women of the Old West. (Dec.)