Born to the Badge (Wyatt Earp: An American Odyssey)

Written by Mark Warren
Review by Tom Vallar

The Kansas years forged Wyatt Earp’s career as a lawman, though it took a while for the idea to overcome his daydreams of riches. He and his horse traveled nearly 3000 miles through the heartland of America as he tried his hand as a railroad detective, gold field entrepreneur, and his fall-back position of faro game dealer and gambler. Yet his fearless nature and strict moral code as a deputy, marshal, or sheriff endeared him to (most of) the townsfolk of Ellsworth, Wichita, and Dodge City. When he meets Doc Holliday during one of those side trips, the unlikely friendship turns both their lives around.

Book Two of Mark Warren’s trilogy continues his look at an Old West legend. Thus the success of this biographical western novel leans heavily on how Warren weaves dialogue and action into the tale. My review of Book One (Adobe Moon, HNR 82) called it “lyrical and philosophical,” and Book Two retains that; my only criticism is that the lyricism relies so heavily on metaphors and similes as to lead readers into sometimes feeling like they are slogging along a muddy trail. Still, fans will look forward to the conclusion in Tombstone.