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The Early Word: New Books for the Week of February 8, 2010

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Ah, the Days of Valentines and Vampires…

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

“The double-helix relationship between Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett is one of the abiding fascinations of the West. No one has come closer than Mark Lee Gardner to capturing their twin destinies and their inevitable final collision…. you can almost smell the gunsmoke and the sweat of the saddles."
— Hampton Sides, author of Blood and Thunder, and Ghost Soldiers

Recommended both for readers of popular history and for scholars, To Hell on a Fast Horse: Billy the Kid, Pat Garrett, and the Epic Chase to Justice in the Old West re-creates the exciting manhunt for the Wild West's quintessential outlaw. It is also the first dual biography of the Kid — horse thief, cattle rustler, charismatic rogue, and cold-blooded killer — and Sherriff Pat Garrett. The account, and the chase, really gets underway during Christmas week, 1880, after the capture and confinement of Billy the Kid then saw his daring daylight courthouse escape in Las Vegas on April 28, 1881, leaving bullet-peppered bodies behind. “I am not going to leave the country,” said the Kid, “and I am not going to reform, neither am I going to be taken alive again.” An assertion he surely held until Garrett finally shot him down on July 14, 1881.

Drawing on voluminous primary sources and a wealth of published scholarship, Mark Lee Gardner delves beneath the myth to take a fresh look at these two legends of the Wild West, their association, and their epic ride to immortality — concluding with a survey of the Kid's “robust mythic afterlife” in books and films.

MORE NONFICTION

The Science of Liberty: Democracy, Reason, and the Laws of Nature
by Timothy Ferris

You Couldn't Ignore Me If You Tried : The Brat Pack, John Hughes, and Their Impact on a Generation
by Susannah Gora

Country Driving: A Journey Through China from Farm to Factory
by Peter Hessler

Willie Mays: The Life, the Legend
by James S. Hirsch

The Bread of Angels: A Memoir of Love and Faith in Damascus
by Stephanie Saldana

FICTION

A Dark Matter
by Peter Straub

Peter Straub’s skill in building psychological suspense and subtly disclosing qualities of character reinforce A Dark Matter's complex story in which four high school friends in 1966 Madison, Wisconsin –Hootie Bly, Dilly Olson, Jason Boatman, and Lee Truax — fall under the spell of peripatetic guru Spencer Mallon. During a secret ritual, something goes terribly wrong, leaving one dead and horribly mutilated. Forty years later, In Roshomon-like fashion, each relates a slightly different account of the ordeal they underwent as Lee's writer husband interviews the quartet to find out what happened. Straub shows how the years  have treated the survivors with unfulfilled potential and promise, and how their disillusioned lives may be rooted in their youthful indiscretion — while suggesting that their unleashing of a Pandora’s Box of evil has sullied all hope ever since.

A Dark Matter,” says Stephen King, “is populated with vivid, sympathetic characters and driven by terrors both human and supernatural. It’s the kind of book that’s impossible to put down once it has been picked up.”

MORE FICTION

Token of Darkness
by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

The Midnight House
by Alex Berenson

The Postmistress
by Sarah Blake

Eleventh Grade Burns (The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod Series #4)
by Heather Brewer

Heist Society
by Ally Carter

Poor Little Bitch Girl
by Jackie Collins

Brava, Valentine
by Adriana Trigiani

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