The Doctor and the Kid

A Weird West Tale, #2

With the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral behind him, Doc Holiday has moved to Deadwood, Colorado where it's supposed to be easier for him to live his remaining days while suffering from consumption. Unfortunately, he didn't plan on a night of drunken card playing leading to him losing all of his money at the gaming tables. He'll have to make some money, and do it quickly, in order to live what remains of his life in comfort.

Considering his options, Doc settles on using his shooting skills to become a bounty hunter. The biggest reward being offered is for the death of a young desperado known as Billy the Kid. Only Billy the Kid is obviously being protected by some powerful magic, he's beaten incredible odds. Doc is going to need help if he's going to take down the Kid. With magical help from Geronimo and scientific help from Thomas Edison, will Doc win the day? Or will he discover that nothing is ever as easy as it looks?

"The Doctor and the Kid" by Mike Resnick is the fun, action packed sequel to his steampunk western, "The Buntline Special". Once again, Doc Holiday, Thomas Edison, Ned Buntline and Geronimo are key players in the fight between magic and science, though this time they unexpectedly seem to find themselves on the same side. Mr. Resnick continues the world building he began in "The Buntline Special" and introduces new secondary characters, whose place in the history of the American West has already been established. The United States as a country is still stuck on the eastern side of the Mississippi River due to the magic of the Indian medicine men.

It's 1862 and Doc Holiday and Big Nosed Kate have moved to Deadwood, Colorado, where Doc plans to live the few remaining years of his life in comfort. But, one night, when he's a little too drunk, Doc accidentally loses all of the money he saved to pay for his stay in a sanatorium when he gets too sick to stay with Kate. Now desperate to make a large amount of money quickly, the only thing he knows he can still do is out gun most men. Finding out the largest bounty is for William Bonny, or Billy the Kid as he's come to be known, puts Doc back on the road to the Southwest, where he plans to ask a few friends for some help in cashing in. Only, he can't keep his opinions to himself and ends up alienating most of his "friends". Now, down to Thomas Edison, Ned Buntline and Geronimo, who's made a side deal guaranteeing Doc a fair chance at killing the Kid, Doc is going to face his toughest enemy to date. Will he be able to pull this off and earn what he needs in order to live the remaining years of his life in comfort?

I liked how Mr. Resnick continued developing his fictional world in this book, Doc Holiday may be a drunk, a card shark and a killer, but he's also a likeable man who's slowly dying from consumption, a disease for which there was no cure in his lifetime. The secondary characters, Thomas Edison and Ned Buntline, played a larger part of this story and were men who were ahead of their time. While they were smart men, they were also down to earth and easily made friends with whoever they met and found interesting.

William Bonny, or Billy the Kid, was just that, a young man around twenty who was likeable until he lost his temper or until he perceived a threat to his life. Then he became what he really was, an extremely fast and accurate shootist, destined for a short life. The two most powerful Indian medicine men, Geronimo and Hook-Nose, are enemies this time around because of their different agendas. Each chooses a gunfighter to protect in an attempt to get their way, with Geronimo backing Doc while Hook-Nose backed Billy. Neither medicine man ever thought Thomas Edison and his science would find something to defeat their magic.

As Thomas Edison and Ned Buntline work to give Doc the advantage, Doc and Billy become friends. Once again Doc finds himself in the situation of liking the man he needs to kill to earn the money he needs for his life. But is killing Billy the only way he can get the money he needs? And will the temporary truce Doc and Billy have agreed to work? You'll have to read "The Doctor and the Kid" to find out. I really enjoyed reading this installment and I'm already looking forward to seeing what further adventures Mr. Resnick dreams up for Doc Holiday, Thomas Edison and Ned Buntline next.

Book Blurb for The Doctor and the Kid

This is the rip-roaring steampunk sequel to popular "The Buntline Special", filled with adventure, excitement, and more than a little gun-slinging action! The time is 1882. With the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral behind him, the consumptive Doc Holliday makes his way to Deadwood, Colorado, where he plans to spend the rest of his short life. But one night he gets a little too drunk and loses everything at the gaming table. He realizes that he needs to replenish his bankroll, and quick, so that he can live out his days in comfort. He considers his options and hits upon the one most likely to produce income in a hurry: he'll use his shooting skills to turn bounty hunter. The biggest reward is for the death of the young desperado known as Billy the Kid. It's clear from the odds the Kid has faced and beaten, that he is protected by some powerful magic. Doc enlists the aid of both magic (Geronimo) and science (Thomas Edison), and goes out after his quarry. But as he soon finds out, nothing is as easy as it looks.

Night Owl Reviews Nov, 2011 4.50