Doc by Mary Doria Russell

The Western is supposedly dead.  If not dead, then certainly dying.  Mary Doria Russell has not heard the news though, and I for one, am happy she hasn’t.

Doc brings us the back story of Dr. John Henry Holliday, otherwise known as Doc Holliday, or simply “Doc”.  While legend and lore tell of his exploits in the shootout at the O.K. Corral, Russell envisions a Southern gentleman, suffering from the brutal disease of tuberculosis, attempting to be a professional dentist in the Wild West.

If you are looking for a retelling of what happened in Tombstone you may be disappointed.  I say “may”, because I don’t really think you will.  Doc takes you back to the Dodge City days, where Holliday meets the Earp brothers and begins their famous friendship.  Russell delves into Holliday’s long relationship with the prostitute known as “Big Nose Kate” and creates an entirely believable history for these ruthless gunmen that leaves you appreciating her skill as a storyteller.  I enjoyed Russell’s character creation because she made no one perfect, but likeable all the same.  She brings texture to every storyline by pulling in bits of information about the Buffalo Soldiers, the Civil War, the court of Maximilian I in Mexico, dental practices of the time period, the early politics of Prohibition and many other interesting tidbits.

Having never read Russell’s other novels, I can’t say how this compares, but I’m definitely looking forward to trying them now.

Find and reserve this book in our catalog.


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