Lucky Billy: A Novel about Billy the Kid

Written by John Vernon
Review by Jeff Westerhoff

This novel takes place between 1878 and 1881 when young Billy the Kid was involved in the Lincoln County War in New Mexico, fought between an Irish gang controlling the town of Lincoln and a newcomer from England bent on breaking up their hold on the county. Each group had hired gunmen working to disrupt the peaceful scene of Lincoln County, with young Billy working for an Englishman named John Tunstall. Billy was loyal to his boss and sought revenge for his murder. Eventually, because of the corrupt political rivalry between the two factions, the war came to a head as Pat Garrett sought to capture or kill Billy the Kid as a result of a jailbreak where The Kid killed two men.

I’ve read about the life of Billy the Kid and enjoyed Mr. Vernon’s tale of Billy’s life as a gunfighter. The author shows the outlaw as defiant and tough with his adversaries, but a friend to those who treat him kindly. A lost soul caught up in difficult times, The Kid eventually paid the price for living by the gun. Lucky Billy is highly recommended for anyone who is interested in the legend of Billy the Kid and his times. John Vernon is a fine writer known for his meticulous research, and I will be looking for his historical novels in the future.