Cover image for Masterson
Wheeler, Richard S.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Forge, 1999.
Physical Description:
253 pages ; 25 cm
General Note:
"A Tom Doherty Associates book."
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
X Adult Fiction Western

On Order



In 1919, Bat Masterson, a sports columnist in New York for two decades, is ill and thinking of his youth as a frontier lawman. He is bothered by the legend that has dogged his footsteps, and on impulse he heads West, with his wife Emma, to revisit his past. Traveling back, Masterson ponders the legend that he has become and the elusive truth behind the lies.

Author Notes

Richard S. (Shaw) Wheeler was born in Milwaukee in 1935 and grew up in nearby Wauwatosa. Wheeler spent three years in Hollywood in the mid-50s, where he worked in a record store and took acting lessons while struggling as a screenwriter. He eventually returned home, and attended the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

He spent over a decade as a newspaperman, working as an editorial writer for the Phoenix Gazette, editorial page editor for the Oakland, California, Tribune, reporter on the Nevada Appeal in Carson City, and reporter and assistant city editor for the Billings, Montana, Gazette.

In 1972, he turned to book editing, working in all for four publishers through 1987. As an editor for Walker & Company he edited twelve Western novels a year. Sandwiched between editing stints, in the mid-70s he worked at the Rancho de la Osa dude ranch in Sasabe, Arizona, on the Mexican border. There, in the off season, he experimented with his own fiction and wrote his first novel, Bushwack, published by Doubleday in 1978.

Five more Western novels followed Bushwack before Wheeler was able to turn to writing full time: Beneath the Blue Mountain (1979), Winter Grass (1983), Sam Hook (1986), Richard Lamb (1987) and Dodging Red Cloud (1987).

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

In 1920, legendary gunfighter Bat Masterson is a successful New York newspaper columnist. His colleagues--Louella Parsons and Damon Runyon, among them--want to know the real story. Parsons' persistent questions prompt Bat to look back at his past, particularly the Dodge City years and his associations with Doc Holliday, the Earp brothers, and the notorious gunfight at the OK Corral. Bat and his wife, Emma, begin an odyssey across the U.S., and the former lawman tries to understand his role in the Wild West and explain it to the younger Emma. Wheeler is an award-winning historical-fiction author whose strength is the interweaving of a dozen engaging characters into a coherent vision of a large event, such as the San Francisco earthquake in Aftershocks [BKL Mr 1 99]. In this melancholy, very poignant novel, he shows his ability to focus on one character, producing a nuanced close-up instead of a detailed panorama. Readers will feel privileged to have accompanied Masterson on his pilgrimage. --Wes Lukowsky

Publisher's Weekly Review

Again depicting characters with frailties as well as heroic qualities, the prolific Wheeler's 25th novel (after Aftershocks) is a sprightly romp of revisionist western history. In 1919, legendary gunfighter Bat Masterson is a 64-year-old New York City sportswriter who suddenly becomes worried about the inglorious and mostly false reputation he has endured for decades. Certainly, he had hunted buffalo and fought Indians at the Battle of Adobe Walls; he'd been a gambler and a lawman. But everyone still believes he's an incorrigible womanizer who has run cathouses and gunned down dozens of men. He does admit to being quite the ladies' man, but bristles at the dime-novel exaggerations that depict him swaggering with 26 notches in his pistols and carrying the heads of seven outlaws around in a sack. Accompanied by his common-law wife, Emma, Bat decides to return to Dodge City, Tombstone and Denver to clear his name and to establish that he killed only one man, who richly deserved it, and that he is really a nice fellow if folks would just get to know him. This journey is a hoot as the old lawman finds that the public wants the legend, not the truth. When Bat visits his old friend Wyatt Earp in L.A., he meets actor William S. Hart and learns about why western films are so popular in Hollywood. Bat reminisces with Emma and a few old saddle pals, but finally gives up his quest when he realizes that folks want mythic, infamous heroes, and "you may as well sit back and enjoy the ride because there's no way to get off the train." This is classic Wheeler, a solid story about real people told with wit, compassion and a bit of whimsy. Author tour. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved