THE WINTER WOLF by Richard Parry


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 Parry's first hardcover launches the latter-day equivalent of a dime-novel series featuring an errant naif (Wyatt Earp's bastard son) and a worldly-wise sidekick who muddle through antic adventures on turn-of-the-century America's vanishing frontiers. Upon turning 16 in 1898, Nathan Blaylock (who has been raised in a Denver orphanage run by Catholic nuns) learns that his mother Mattie died ten years earlier. Before expiring, however, the former dancehall girl wrote a letter promising young Nathan $20,000 if he could kill the legendary lawman who fathered him and then abandoned her. A rank tenderfoot, Nathan is fortunate enough to join forces with Jim Riley, a down-on-his-luck gunslinger who agrees to help the boy in return for a share of the blood money. While traveling across the Southwest, the greenhorn teaches the aging saddle tramp how to read and write; under Jim's expert tutelage, Nate also becomes a crack shot. Along the way, the two save J.C. Hennison, a surgeon turned snake-oil salesman, from a lynch mob. With Doc in tow, they hop a train to San Francisco (where Earp has been living). On the trip, Nate and Jim rescue a wealthy Chinaman and his delectable concubine from an assault by ruffian passengers; the elderly Asian succumbs to his injuries, but not before willing Wei- Li to Nate. Now a foursome, the group reaches the Bay Area too late to catch Earp, who's off to Alaska with a hoard of fellow gold rushers. The quartet go in pursuit. Many murderous brawls and a couple of hard prospecting seasons later, Wei-Li dies in childbirth, leaving Nate a son; and shortly thereafter the 50ish Earp and the distraught young man he never knew had been born come face-to-face. Following a shootout with some archvillains, the ex- marshal and his spitting image part as friends. Divertingly tall tales told in appropriately mock-heroic fashion. Most readers will look forward to Nate's return.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-312-86017-X
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Forge
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1996


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