New lawman Wyatt Earp tries to figure out who killed a prostitute in John Shirley’s Wyatt in Wichita: A Historical Novel.
“When I could,” Shirley notes, “I stuck to facts.”
Not so much. Wyatt is in Ellsworth in 1874, witnessing the shooting of Sheriff Chauncey Whitney—which happened in 1873. In Wichita (and Deadwood), Wyatt’s assisted by a pre-Billy the Kid Henry McCarty, who has caught a freight from New Mexico—hard to do since the railroad didn’t reach New Mexico until 1878.
Purists might laugh at Shirley’s stretches (more name-dropping than history), but, taken in stride as a not-so-historical novel, Wyatt in Wichita can be an entertaining read.
—Johnny D. Boggs, author of Mojave