Missing Daughter

Missing Daughter
Missing Daughter by Rick Mofina

Murder On Pleasant Ave

Murder On Pleasant Ave
Murder on Pleasant Avenue by Victoria Thompson

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Missing Daughter by Rick Mofina- Feature and Review


Families with nothing to hide don’t have so many secrets

Life can change in an instant. For Ryan and Karen Lane, it happens on the morning they discover their twelve-year-old daughter’s window open, their beloved Maddie missing from her bed.

Police investigate. Suspicions swirl. A teenage boy admits he was outside her bedroom window the night she disappeared. A halfway house for convicts recently opened in the neighborhood. The Lane family is thrown into turmoil, then detectives turn their sights on them.

No one is ruled out. Not Karen, with her tragic past, who argued with her daughter. Not Ryan, with his violent streak. Not Maddie’s thirteen-year-old brother, Tyler, who heard voices in her room the night she vanished.

Days, weeks, months, then agonizing years go by without answers, the Lanes fearing that Maddie is gone forever…until a stunning twist shocks everyone, plunging the family deeper into a world of buried secrets whose revelations threaten the very foundation of their lives.



Missing DaughterMissing Daughter by Rick Mofina
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Missing Daughter by Rick Mofina is a 2019 MIRA publication.

I’m trying to get back to some of my pre-pandemic reading goals, one of which was to sample work from authors I have never read before. Rick Mofina is a name I’ve seen circulating amongst my Goodreads friends in the mystery/thriller category for a long while. I have a handful of his books on my Kindle, but I never have gotten around to reading any of them.

I was drawn to the title of this one because, although missing person’s cases are hardly original, there is something so utterly unsettling about someone simply vanishing into thin air, it sucks me in every time.

This book was no exception. When twelve-year-old Maddie disappears during the night, swift suspicion falls on her family:

Her mother, Karen has a tragic past, and a newly contentious relationship with her daughter. Ryan, her father, who is occasionally hot-headed and is under a lot of strain, and her older brother, Tyler, who claims to have heard voices in her room the night she disappeared.

The investigation, like most missing persons cases, is hot in the beginning, but it eventually goes cold. Years pass. Then a staggering turn of events stuns everyone…

Suddenly, shocking secrets float to the surface. Will these revelations finally lead to the truth about Maddie’s disappearance?

This turned out to be a fantastic novel of suspense, complimented by terrific characterizations, and even, well-timed pacing. It held my attention from start to finish, not only with the guessing game, but with the realistic depictions of police interrogations and the emotional strain of a family stuck in a never- ending nightmare. It’s an emotional and absorbing novel, with some huge surprises I ever could have seen coming.

Overall, I am pleased with my first impression of this author and am glad I finally got around to reading one of his books. It goes without saying, I will be reading more of them in the future.






Rick Mofina is a former journalist who has interviewed murderers on death row in Montana and Texas, flown over L.A. with the LAPD and patrolled with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police near the Arctic. He's also reported from the Caribbean, Africa and Kuwait's border with Iraq. His true-crime freelance work has appeared in The New York Times, The Telegraph (London, U.K.), Reader’s Digest, Penthouse, Marie Claire and The South China Morning Post, (Hong Kong). He has written more than 20 crime fiction thrillers that have been published in nearly 30 countries.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Murder on Pleasant Avenue by Victoria Thompson- Feature and Review


When Gino Donatelli is accused of a brutal murder, beloved sleuths Sarah and Frank Malloy have to catch a killer who is out to destroy their innocent friend's life in the latest installment of the national bestselling Gaslight mysteries.

A victim is found, brutally murdered and the police are certain they've caught the killer. Their only suspect: Gino Donatelli.

Frank and Sarah know Gino is innocent but the police have a one-track mind. Once Frank struck it rich and left their ranks taking Gino with him, there has been a simmering resentment in the department. And now, someone has pulled out all the stops to make it look like Gino is the only one who could have committed the crime.

With the clock ticking and evidence mounting against their friend, Sarah and Frank will try to unravel a treacherous plot before Gino is sent up the river for good.



Murder on Pleasant Avenue (Gaslight Mystery #23)Murder on Pleasant Avenue by Victoria Thompson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Murder on Pleasant Avenue by Victoria Thompson is a 2020 Berkley publication.

A nail- biting historical mystery and adventure!!

Over the past couple of months, I have been fortunate to have several of my favorite mystery authors publish a new novel. I have found it quite comforting to touch base with familiar characters and landscapes, so the timing of this latest release couldn't have been better.

In this 23rd installment of the Gaslight series, we get to know Gino Donatelli a little better- although not under the best of circumstances. Gino’s sister-in-law asks for help concerning a settlement house resident who appears to have gone missing, the main concern being the possibility the young woman may have been kidnapped by ‘The Black Hand’- a gang operating in Little Italy- East Harlem.

As Frank and Gino begin their investigation, it becomes clear they need help from Sarah and Maeve while dealing with sensitive situations. But, in a horrible turn of events, Gino becomes a murder suspect, which lands him in jail. Not only that, he could be in grave danger. Can Frank find the real murderer before it’s too late?

Victoria Thompson always provides the most interesting history in her books. Seriously, every novel is like a mini history lesson- and it is always fascinating! This story is no exception. I always find myself Googling something, curious to learn more. This installment shines a light on the 'Black Hand' gang, of which I knew practically nothing.

As to the mystery, there are some tense moments of suspense, as the behavior of some of the characters becomes curiously erratic. It was an absorbing and puzzling situation. Naturally, I worried about Gino, who can be a bit stubborn.

On a lighter note, I found myself grinning with delight over some key developments between the recurring characters and I'm betting fans of this series will be just as pleased as I am!

Overall, I am impressed with how Thompson continues to keep this series fresh. Great characters, interesting history, and compelling mysteries- what’s not to love?






Edgar® Nominated author Victoria Thompson writes the Edgar and Agatha Award nominated Gaslight Mystery Series, set in turn-of-the-century New York City and featuring midwife Sarah Brandt, and the Sue Grafton Award nominated Counterfeit Lady Series set in early twentieth century New York City and featuring con artist Elizabeth Miles. She also contributed to the award winning writing textbook MANY GENRES/ONE CRAFT. A popular speaker, Victoria teaches in the Seton Hill University master's program in writing popular fiction. She lives in the Chicago area with her husband and a very spoiled little dog.

Friday, May 29, 2020

FLASHBACK FRIDAY- All is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker- Feature and Review


In the small, affluent town of Fairview, Connecticut everything seems picture perfect.

Until one night when young Jenny Kramer is attacked at a local party. In the hours immediately after, she is given a controversial drug to medically erase her memory of the violent assault. But, in the weeks and months that follow, as she heals from her physical wounds, and with no factual recall of the attack, Jenny struggles with her raging emotional memory. Her father, Tom, becomes obsessed with his inability to find her attacker and seek justice while her mother, Charlotte, prefers to pretend this horrific event did not touch her perfect country club world.

As they seek help for their daughter, the fault lines within their marriage and their close-knit community emerge from the shadows where they have been hidden for years, and the relentless quest to find the monster who invaded their town - or perhaps lives among them - drive this psychological thriller to a shocking and unexpected conclusion.



All Is Not ForgottenAll Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

All is not Forgotten by Wendy Walker is a 2016 St. Martin’s Press publication.

Oh man, did this book mess with my head.

Compared to some psychological thrillers that keep your heart rate up with an ‘easy on the joints’, low impact workout, this book was like a high impact workout for the mind. So much so, my poor brain needed time to recover before I could write this review.

After Jenny Kramer is brutally raped, she is given a drug to make her forget what happened. But, instead of helping her cope, it only stymies her ability to heal emotionally and move forward with her life, which leads her into a very dark place.

In the meantime, Jenny’s parents, Tom and Charlotte, deal with the fallout, which turns the cracks in their marriage into asteroid sized craters.

Shocking secrets spill out, and the investigation turns up evidence that suggests the attacker might not be a stranger, but someone living right there in their small community.

This novel kept me on edge from the first page forward. There is so much to think about, so many layers, and corners filled with dark shadows, paranoia, revenge, and anger. But, often it’s the morality and ethical questions that really added the spice to the pot, on several different fronts.

One of the most compelling topics this book addresses is the use of a drug that could erase your memory of a traumatic event. On the surface, this may seem like an act of compassion, but it raises a plethora of questions, which could certainly inspire some interesting debate.

But, there are other dilemmas that arise, and frankly, I was just as torn over those issues as with anything else going on.

Not only that, we see every individual in treatment go through intense therapy, both as individuals and as a group. Watching them all come to terms with their pasts, taking slow, measured steps toward healing, and seeing real promising results, despite the incredibly bizarre circumstances, was often a harrowing, but fascinating process.

With so much going on, these individual threads could have easily spiraled out of control, but the author kept them right on track and then slowly merged them until I was sitting there watching what was sure to become a spectacular eruption, frozen in my seat unable to tear my eyes from the impending collision.

I really, really liked this book!! It’s absorbing, thought provoking, troubling, tense, and riveting! I could not have guessed the way things would turn out, was never sure who to trust, and had to ask myself on more than one occasion: “What would I do in this situation?’

Be warned, however, that there are graphic descriptions of rape, with some very disturbing passages to read through, but because of the memory erasing side effects, it was necessary to delve deeper into the physical trauma, and was relevant to the story.

Also, it is worth mentioning that while the drug featured in this story has not been marketed in real life, there are drugs similar to it, that are currently being tested, along with therapy, that could indeed alter, impact, or erase memories.

Overall, this is super smart, perfectly paced, psychological thriller, unique and original, and I really appreciated the challenge it presented, how it held my attention and the way everything wrapped up. There are still a few secrets held close to the vest, but the reader knows all, and I had to give the author a big nod of approval for giving me that insider knowledge which was a nice touch and a perfect way to conclude the story.

I think the book deserves the five -star treatment!!





Wendy Walker is an attorney and former investment banker. Her first thriller, All Is Not Forgotten, has become an international bestseller with movie rights sold to Reese Witherspoon and Warner Brothers. The paperback will be out on July 18, 2017. Her second thriller, Emma In The Night, will be released on August 8, 2017. Wendy lives in Connecticut where she is busy raising her three sons and writing her next novel.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

The Dower House Mystery by Patricia Wentworth- Feature and Review


In this atmospheric tale from the author of the Miss Silver Mysteries, a widow is reunited with her girlhood love in a house haunted by all-too-human ghosts

They meet again in the dusk of a ruined garden. Amabel Grey hasn’t laid eyes on Julian Forsham in twenty years, not since she gave him up—the man she’d fallen passionately in love with—for the fiancĂ© who needed her. Now an unexpected circumstance brings the British widow and the world-famous scientist together again.

Amabel’s nineteen-year-old daughter, Daphne, has been invited to join her friends—and the boy she adores—on a trip to Egypt. But she needs two hundred pounds from her mother. George Forsham is offering that exact sum to anyone willing to stay six months at Dower House, the centuries-old estate in the English countryside where Amabel and Julian first met. The fact that the overgrown, sadly neglected house is rumored to be haunted doesn’t deter Amabel. Until strange things start happening . . .

The mewing of a cat that doesn’t exist, the sound of flapping wings, someone crying in the dark. Are restless spirits walking the night? Or is there a rational explanation? Plunged into deadly danger, Amabel could lose her second chance with the man she never stopped loving.



The Dower House MysteryThe Dower House Mystery by Patricia Wentworth
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Dower House by Patricia Wentworth is a 2016 Open Road Media publication. (Originally published in 1925)

I love Golden Age Mysteries!

This is a stand- alone mystery- not a part of the Miss Silver series- by Wentworth. Amabel Grey’s rather spoiled daughter, Daphne, shovels on the guilt, demanding that Amabel raise the funds for a trip she’s desperate to take. Determined to get the money, Amabel agrees to spend six months at 'Dower House' to help dispel stubborn rumors that the house is haunted. Will she manage to stay for the duration?

I’m sure that over the years I have read a few books by Patricia Wentworth, but it would have been long, long time ago, and I don’t have any memory of them. I’ve been piecing together the ‘Miss Silver’ mysteries for a while, hoping to read through the series from start to finish. This book, however, is not a part of that series. Truth be told, I stumbled across it while browsing through the Kindle Unlimited books at Amazon.

This was such a fun mystery! Amabel is reunited with the real love of her life after many years, but her life could be in real danger- but from whom? And Why?

There are plenty of atmospheric chills and thrills, as well as a sweet love story, and lots of intrigue. The story wasn’t one hundred percent perfect, as it may have carried on a little longer than necessary, but other than that, it was quite entertaining!!

As always, I feel compelled to give thanks to Open Road Media for reissuing so many wonderful classic mysteries in digital format. Finding these books can be a bit of a chore, and can be costly, if you are looking for print copies. Not only that, it is much easier on my eyes if I can read them on my Kindle.

I’m really looking forward to reading through the "Miss Silver" series and will be on the lookout for more stand -alone novels by this author.

4 stars





Patricia Wentworth (1878-1961) was one of the masters of English mystery writing. She published her first novel in 1910 and, in the 1920s, introduced the character who would make her famous: Miss Maud Silver. Along with Agatha Christie's Miss Marple, Miss Silver is the definitive embodiment of the English style of cozy mysteries

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Murder with Clotted Cream by Karen Rose Smith - Feature and Review


A catering job has come in for Daisy’s Tea Garden in Pennsylvania’s Amish country—but death will be served before dessert . . .

Margaret Vaughn has hired Daisy to provide afternoon tea for her theater group. A local girl who left long ago for an acting career in New York, Margaret has returned home—with a multimillionaire husband in tow. But while Daisy bustles around Margaret’s historic farmhouse, she senses that there’s tension behind the scenes. Then she discovers the hostess on the floor of the pantry—dead and covered with clotted cream.

Barely recovered from her previous sleuthing adventure, Daisy joins forces with the former detective she’s been dating to help solve the case. Should she cast suspicion on the stars of the upcoming play? Can Margaret’s sister shine a spotlight on potential culprits? Or are there clues to be found in the victim’s past? With plenty of family stress of her own to deal with, all Daisy knows is she better act fast .



Murder with Clotted Cream (Daisy's Tea Garden Mystery, #5)Murder with Clotted Cream by Karen Rose Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Murder with Clotted Cream by Karen Rose Smith is a 2020 Kensington publication.

An absorbing page turner!

In troubling times, it is often comforting to turn to something familiar. Some folks binge watch favorite series, others are re-reading favorite books instead of searching for something that will hold their divided, distracted attention. For me, I have found reading new installments in my favorite mystery series to be very calming and cathartic.

This book happens to be the latest chapter in one of my favorite series, and is also an upcoming release- a win-win! I am also happy to report this book not only held my attention, it kept me guessing from beginning to end!

In this fifth installment, Daisy accepts a catering job for Margaret Vaughn, who is hosting a tea for her theatre group. Margaret has recently moved back to Pennsylvania after pursuing a career in acting in New York. Now she is residing, with her millionaire husband, in her historic farmhouse.

Margaret isn’t exactly the warmest person, but when Daisy finds her body in the pantry, covered in clotted cream, she is shocked to the core- believing she might 'never view clotted cream the same way again'…

One of the great things about cozies is that they are 100% pure 'whodunits'. Trying to figure out who the culprit is and what the motive might be amongst the suspects is always challenging and fun. But the other great thing about cozies is checking in on the personal lives of the recurring characters, who over time begin to feel like old friends.

In this episode, Daisy is experiencing some anxiety due to the impending birth of her first grandchild, her mother’s odd behavior, and the prospect of her younger daughter’s first visit with her birth mother and her family.

The author does a magnificent job with balancing the mystery with the family drama. Both threads are interesting and compelling and kept me turning pages past my bedtime. I also appreciate the depth and maturity of this installment, which addresses some important mental health issues, without becoming too heavy. In fact, the writing here is so good, I’d go so far as to say this book would appeal to a broader audience, including those who enjoy contemporary or women's fiction.

The story has a few nice twists and some big surprises you won't want to miss out on.

Of course, it goes without saying, there are some delicious recipes included and I want to try all of them!!

Overall, this is another great addition to what has quickly become one of my very favorite cozy series. You can bet I will be the first in line for the next chapter! I can hardly wait!!






Award winning author, Karen Rose Smith, wrties romances as well as mysteries. Her first book was published in 1992.  Her romances have made both the USA TODAY list and the Amazon Romance and Contemporary Romance Bestseller lists. 

She has written for Meteor/Kismet, Kensington and Harlequin. Readers can contact Karen through her website, Facebook, (Karen Rose Smith Author), and on Twitter @Karenrosesmith. 

Friday, May 22, 2020

FLASHBACK FRIDAY- Jane Steele by Lynday Faye - Feature and Review


Reader, I murdered him.

A Gothic retelling of Jane Eyre.

Like the heroine of the novel she adores, Jane Steele suffers cruelly at the hands of her aunt and schoolmaster. And like Jane Eyre, they call her wicked - but in her case, she fears the accusation is true. When she flees, she leaves behind the corpses of her tormentors.

A fugitive navigating London's underbelly, Jane rights wrongs on behalf of the have-nots whilst avoiding the noose. Until an advertisement catches her eye. Her aunt has died and the new master at Highgate House, Mr Thornfield, seeks a governess. Anxious to know if she is Highgate's true heir, Jane takes the position and is soon caught up in the household's strange spell. When she falls in love with the mysterious Charles Thornfield, she faces a terrible dilemma: can she possess him - body, soul and secrets - and what if he discovers her murderous past?



Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jane Steel by Lyndsay Faye is a 2016 G. P. Putnam’s Sons publication.

There are only a few times in my life when I’ve honestly felt as though an author sat down and penned a book just for me. This is one of those times…

While marketed as a ‘retelling’ of Jane Eyre, in truth, our protagonist, Jane Steele, sees a dark parallel between her life and that of Jane Eyre, and is inspired to write her own memoir, so technically it’s not really a ‘retelling’ in the way we commonly refer to it.

But, as a huge fan of classic Gothic stories, Jane Eyre, in particular, this book literally rocked my world!!

Right away I recognized the writing style. The languorous phrases and the slow, tantalizing pace, the deliciously dark characterizations, all of which drew me right into the familiar, well loved, adored, and cherished atmosphere of the Gothic novel.

Jane Steele is vulnerable, but also has criminal, murderous tendencies. However, she never does anything out of pure malice. She loves and cares for people deeply, but literally has no qualms about taking matters into her own hands, vigilante style, not once, but multiple times.

“Though I no longer presumed to have a conscience, I have never once lacked feelings.”

Jane Steele often compares her own circumstances to those of Jane Eyre, but points out various ways Eyre lacked the chops to do what needed doing and 'wasn’t all that great of a detective'.

Moments and insights like that had me looking at the classic novel in a whole new light, all while falling hopelessly in love with this darker version of events. It was almost as if Steele was trying to right some of the Eyre’s wrongs in her parallel universe, strengthening her weaknesses, and giving her a distorted boost of girl power.

The second half of the book is where things really get interesting, as Steele quite expertly works undercover, while trying to figure out all the burning mysteries of Highgate House. I loved all the overwrought drama as an obvious ode to Gothic hysteria, written with a wry, satirical tone that expressed a deep affection for the classic genre, despite the obvious exaggerations.

But, as always, once the suspense has been built, all the secrets are unveiled, and the mysteries solved, all of which are revealed with great flourish and embellishment, at the end of the day, it’s the love story that leaves me enthralled. Will Jane get her man? Will Charles still love her once he knows her dark history?

This book is a rousing tribute to Gothic classics, cleverly constructed, exposing the dark underbelly of Victorian days, chalk full of satire and dark humor. Jane Steele walked away with my heart in her pocket. This is one of those books that, as I regretfully turned the last page, I was tempted to start it all over again from the beginning. I can’t believe it took me so long to discover this book!! It’s one of those stories that makes me want to hug the book hold it close to my heart, because it's stories like this one that reminds me of how I feel in love with reading and why.

“I hope that the epitaph of the human race when the world ends will be: here perished a species which loved to tell stories.”

This book now holds a treasured spot on my ‘favorite books of all time’ list. Five big fat stars!!





Lyndsay Faye moved to Manhattan in 2005 to audition for theatre work; she found her days more open when the powers that be elected to knock her day-job restaurant down with bulldozers. Her first novel Dust and Shadow: an Account of the Ripper Killings by Dr. John H Watson is a tribute to the aloof genius and his good-hearted friend whose exploits she has loved since childhood. Faye's love of her adopted city led her to research the origins of the New York City Police Department, the inception of which exactly coincided with the start of the Irish Potato Famine. The Gods of Gotham, Seven for a Secret, and The Fatal Flame follow ex-bartender Timothy Wilde as he navigates the rapids of his violently turbulent city, his no less chaotic elder brother Valentine Wilde, and the perils of learning police work in a riotous and racially divided political landscape. The first book of the trilogy was nominated for an Edgar Award for Best Novel and has been published in 14 languages. Her lasting affection for Jane Eyre led her to re-imagine the heroine as a gutsy, heroic serial killer in Jane Steele.

After growing up in the Pacific Northwest, Lyndsay worked as a professional actress throughout the Bay Area for several years, nearly always in a corset, and if not a corset then at the very least heels and lined stockings. As her roles ranged from Scrooge's lost fiancĂ©e in A Christmas Carol to Lavinia DuPlessy in Andrew Lippa's world premiere of A Little Princess, whalebone prevented her from drawing a natural breath for a number of years. She is a soprano with a high pop belt, if it interests you. Her performances were generally reviewed well, with adjectives ranging from "soaring" and "delightful" to "sausage-curled." 

Lyndsay and her husband, artist Gabriel Lehner, live in Queens with their cats, Grendel and Prufrock. During the few hours a day Lyndsay isn't writing or editing, she is most often cooking, or sampling new kinds of microbrew, or thinking of ways to creatively mismatch her clothing. She is a very proud member of AEA, MWA, ASH, GWN, and BSI (Actor's Equity Association, Mystery Writers of America, the Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes, Girls Write Now, and the Baker Street Irregulars, respectively).

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Dodge City: Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, and the Wickedest Town in the American West by Tom Clavin- Feature and Review


Dodge City, Kansas, is a place of legend. The town that started as a small military site exploded with the coming of the railroad, cattle drives, eager miners, settlers, and various entrepreneurs passing through to populate the expanding West. Before long, Dodge City’s streets were lined with saloons and brothels and its populace was thick with gunmen, horse thieves, and desperadoes of every sort. By the 1870s, Dodge City was known as the most violent and turbulent town in the West.

Enter Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson. Young and largely self-trained men, the lawmen led the effort that established frontier justice and the rule of law in the American West, and did it in the wickedest place in the United States. When they moved on, Wyatt to Tombstone and Bat to Colorado, a tamed Dodge was left in the hands of Jim Masterson. But before long Wyatt and Bat, each having had a lawman brother killed, returned to that threatened western Kansas town to team up to restore order again in what became known as the Dodge City War before riding off into the sunset.

#1 New York Times bestselling author Tom Clavin's Dodge City tells the true story of their friendship, romances, gunfights, and adventures, along with the remarkable cast of characters they encountered along the way (including Wild Bill Hickock, Jesse James, Doc Holliday, Buffalo Bill Cody, John Wesley Hardin, Billy the Kid, and Theodore Roosevelt) that has gone largely untold—lost in the haze of Hollywood films and western fiction, until now.



Dodge City: Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, and the Wickedest Town in the American WestDodge City: Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, and the Wickedest Town in the American West by Tom Clavin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dodge City: Bat Masterson, Wyatt Earp and the Wickedest Town in the American West by Tom Clavin is a 2018 St. Martin’s Griffin publication.

This is an extremely interesting history of the time Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson spent in Dodge City, Kansas.

The landscape and atmosphere of the city, is very vividly drawn, and might be a bit different from the preconceived notions we have, based on westerns we’ve watched on television. The information provided here might also come as a surprise for many. Books, movies, and television have exaggerated and embellished the facts to the point where it is has become hard to separate fact from fiction.

Clavin did a great job of explaining how the legends were born, how these fantastical stories originated, then proceeded to break down the real, true story of Dodge City, Bat Masterson, and Wyatt Earp. I found the reality to be just as fascinating as the overblown legends.

While I love history and historical fiction, excepting a handful of western historical romance novels, I occasionally indulge in, I have never been especially interested in reading a pure Western.

However, years ago, I lost a coin toss with my husband and had to watch ‘Tombstone’, the movie starring Val Kilmer and Kurt Russell. While initially, I sat on the sofa sulking, because westerns were my least favorite kind of movie of all time, before long, I was completely caught up in the comedy and drama, as well as the incredible acting performances.

                                                                   WYATT EARP

A small seed was planted back then, which made me want to learn more about Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. But I never acted on that curiosity because I just wasn’t quite ready to consider reading American Western history- fact or fiction, just yet.

However, that movie did help me better understand who many of the players were in this book and is also why the true story behind these infamous characters was so surprising to me. While I was somewhat familiar with Wyatt Earp’s background, I knew next to nothing about Bat Masterson, which made the portions of the book pertaining to him of greater interest.

                                                               BAT MASTERSON

The lives of Bat Masterson and Wyatt Earp did intersect on several occasions, and this book shows the true nature of their dealings with one another. I enjoyed reading about Dodge City as well. In recent years, the city of Tombstone, thanks in part, to the above- mentioned motion picture, has overshadowed Dodge City. However, the city was certainly… lively! The moral compass was not exactly pure to say the least, perhaps even shocking in some ways.

While history buffs may be well versed in this period in American history, even the most knowledgeable will discover some new information about the two men featured in this book, or about Dodge City and some of its inhabitants.

For someone like me, who has avoided anything that might be even remotely defined as a traditional or pure western for years, this book was very enlightening!!

Overall, this is a well organized book, quite interesting, and a much welcomed change of pace for me.






On the afternoon of October 26, 1881, nine men clashed in what would be known as the most famous shootout in American frontier history. Thirty bullets were exchanged in thirty seconds, killing three men and wounding three others.

The fight sprang forth from a tense, hot summer. Cattle rustlers had been terrorizing the back country of Mexico and selling the livestock they stole to corrupt ranchers. The Mexican government built forts along the border to try to thwart American outlaws, while Arizona citizens became increasingly agitated. Rustlers, who became known as the cow-boys, began to kill each other as well as innocent citizens. That October, tensions boiled over with Ike and Billy Clanton, Tom and Frank McLaury, and Billy Claiborne confronting the Tombstone marshal, Virgil Earp, and the suddenly deputized Wyatt and Morgan Earp and shotgun-toting Doc Holliday.




Tom Clavin is the author/coauthor of eleven books. His most recent is That Old Black Magic: Louis Prima, Keely Smith, and the Golden Age of Las Vegas.
His articles have appeared in Cosmopolitan, Family Circle, Men's Journal, Parade, Reader's Digest, and others.
He was a contributing reporter for the New York Times for fifteen years.