To Hell on a Fast Horse: Billy the Kid, Pat Garrett, and the Epic Chase to Justice in the Old West

Written by Mark Lee Gardner
Review by Helene Williams

The saga of William Bonney, better known as Billy the Kid, began in 1877 when he was just 17 and killed a man in a barroom brawl. By 1880, Pat Garrett, the newly-elected sheriff of Lincoln County, New Mexico, made it his mission to track down and kill this notorious outlaw; Mark Lee Gardner’s action-packed volume details the multiple manhunts, captures, escapes, and final encounter between these two men, all of which took place in a mere 18 months. The politics and personalities of the time are well-researched and integrated into the telling, providing readers with a wealth of context and vivid description. Photographs and reproductions add more layers of detail. The last third of the book is devoted to Pat Garrett’s post-Billy the Kid life, which has been neglected in some biographies. In the years between 1881 and 1908 Garrett was seen alternately as a hero and a villain, but whatever his label, he was always on the hunt for outlaws, business deals, and political appointments. Gardner’s inclusion of correspondence and other documentation make for a well-rounded picture of the whole man. Extensive notes and a lengthy resource list round out this eminently readable book.