The American public knows several versions of Doc Holliday, depending upon which Hollywood incarnation tickles their fancy. Victor Mature, Cesar Romero, Kirk Douglas, Jason Robards, to name a few. Val Kilmer’s interpretation has most successfully insinuated itself into the American psyche – much of that credit going to the fine dialogue of the screenplay – but Dennis Quaid came closest to reality. Still, it’s all Hollywood. It takes more than a look at the historical facts or the confined boundaries of a movie script to capture the essence of someone as complicated as Holliday, and naturally the written word has the best chance of conveying it … especially a novel.
But how to capture it?
The writer must immerse him/herself into the known facts and make sense of them in the interpretation. This takes a lot of time. Victoria Wilcox has invested this time – a good portion of her life – and she applies her considerable writing skills to the task by giving us the story that all Earp/Holliday aficionados have needed for a long time. Most writers have offered the Holliday that they wanted to imagine. Wilcox has given us the portrait derived from meticulous research.
Gary Roberts gave us the definitive nonfiction work. Now Wilcox has brushed on the colors so that we can better understand what made the man tick. Her palette is rich.
She brings post-Civil War America alive with her knowledge of the appurtenances of daily life, both in the city and on the frontier. This is a book worthy of your Western and Southern library, and thankfully it’s only the start. Two more works will follow.
History is always more interesting than the glorified tale, and this book proves it, for, though it is a novel, it is shored up by decades of research. If you want to superimpose Val Kilmer’s wry smile into the mental image as you read, feel free. But I’ll bet you’ll want to research the old photos and see who this man really was … and what he looked like. Wilcox will do the rest.
Mark Warren, Award Winning Author of "Two Years in a Tipi"