There has been much written about the infamous “gunfight at the OK Corral” which chronicles the story of Doc Holliday and the Earp brothers, but their wild west story began long before they set foot in Tombstone, Arizona. In Doc, Mary Doria Russell, seeks to show us the history of the consumptive dentist, how he came to be known as a dangerous gunslinger, and his friendship with the Earps which would shape his destiny.
I have to say, historical fiction doesn’t get much better than this. I realize there will be purists out there that don’t like fabricated story lines (and there are a few in this novel), but Russell uses them, I believe, to illustrate a point she’s trying to make about her characters, and also because it helps round out the story. She’s very clear about her creative license, so I didn’t mind in the least.
Russell’s writing is sheer prose. There is a definite “western” and at times “southern” feel to it. It aptly sweeps you into the place and the time. And her dialogue – wow! Doc Holliday comes across as witty and charming as his reputation. Doc is a page turner that pulls you in from the very first sentence, and leaves you wanting more when you’ve finished. And guess what? There will be more! Mary Doria Russell is writing a sequel tentatively called The Cure For Anger. As if that weren’t enough for Doc fans to be over over the moon, HBO has picked up the rights to make a series out of the novel, in which Ron Howard and Akiva Goldman have signed on to produce. Both the series and novel are expected out in late 2014. Woo hoo!
4 1/2 stars (out of 5)
Published in 2011