Hard to Quit

Written by Mark Mitten
Review by Jeff Westerhoff

In the winter of 1892, the Smith gang, led by Soapy Smith, arrives in Creede, Colorado. Soapy was kicked out of Denver by the law and now must take his con game to a new town. Cowboys LG and Davis lead their cows into the outskirts of the town, anticipating selling the meat to the local businesses in Creede. Meanwhile, outside of Leadville, the Silver King, Horace Tabor, his wife “Baby Doe” and young daughter own the Matchless Silver Mine. Other prominent citizens include Bat Masterson, who runs the Denver Exchange, a gambling house in Creede, and Bob Ford, killer of Jesse James, a local troublemaker who wants to own his own bar in Creede. These men all want power and control of the silver mining in their communities. Soapy Smith will stop at nothing, including murder.

Mitten provides a list of major and many supporting characters which was helpful in following the sequence of events. Periodically, he would “go back in time” with the development of Horace Tabor’s character. Once immersed in the story, I was able to follow the plot. By adding the quest of three Native Americans, the author provides an interesting narrative to the plot—I was unable at first to understand why these three characters were introduced, but their involvement at the climax of the novel provides a humorous addition. The author’s knowledge and understanding of the West towards the end of the 19th century is exceptional and well-researched. Fast-paced and at times gripping, this book was difficult to put down.