United States of Books – Doc by Mary Doria Russell


by Mary Doria Russell

Author: Elisha at Rainy Day Reviews

Entertainment Weekly says – Set in the saloons of Dodge City in 1878 before the shoot-out at the O.K. Corral, this murder mystery paints Doc Holiday as a tragic hero and gambler, bringing one of the state’s most legendary events and personages to life.

(Courtesy of goodreads)

Born to the life of a Southern gentleman, Dr. John Henry Holliday arrives on the Texas frontier hoping that the dry air and sunshine of the West will restore him to health. Soon, with few job prospects, Doc Holliday is gambling professionally with his partner, Mária Katarina Harony, a high-strung, classically educated Hungarian whore. In search of high-stakes poker, the couple hits the saloons of Dodge City. And that is where the unlikely friendship of Doc Holliday and a fearless lawman named Wyatt Earp begins–before the gunfight at the O.K. Corral links their names forever in American frontier mythology when neither man wanted fame or deserved notoriety

I have to say, I had heard of this book, was told about this book, but never read the book. Until now. The synopsis was intriguing yet kept an air of mystery. I was even more intrigued and excited to read this book after finding out it was based off of a true story. I love a good non-fiction read, and this did not disappoint. Set in western Texas during the frontier, Doc Holliday makes his name known through gambling with his co-conspirators. Then, there’s a twist among all the other twists in the story…a murder. Or was it a murder?

I loved the thick plot, the western touch, the “old days” feel, the relationships…especially with Doc’s “special” on again-off again friend. I found this story very interesting and it did captivate my attention. I was worried it wouldn’t because I am not a fan of a lot of westerns, I am a bit picky in that area. But all in all, it was really good and I would definitely recommend this story.

(fwiw, I had a few things to say about this a couple of years ago)

Dusted Off: Doc by Mary Doria Russell


by Mary Doria Russell
Hardcover, 394 pg.
Random House, 2013
Read: June 9-13, 2012

I was almost 100 pages into this novel when the thought occurred to me how extraordinarily careful Russell was in the way she put this together. Not that I think most authors are sloppy or anything, but the effort to make sure every piece, every word, every event was placed juuuust so was very evident.

The result of all this care is a heckuva novel about the years and events leading up to Wyatt & Morgan Earp heading to Tombstone with their good buddy Doc Holliday. Warm, exciting, brutal–this novel reads like a fast-paced biography. Really, really well written–there are a couple of times that Russell overplays her hand and gets downright manipulative, and at least once she almost lost me while doing so.

I’m glad I stuck it out tho’, the climax was as heart-breaking as it was heart-warming, and the coda put a nice little bow on the whole thing. Well worth the time and effort.


4 Stars