The Doctor and the Kid by Mike Resnick
The Doctor and the Kid is the sequel to The Buntline Special (reviewed here).
The Doctor and the Kid opens with Doc Holliday in Leadville, Colorado, preparing to be admitted to a sanatorium for his consumption. Of course, Doc isn’t quite ready to give up the ghost just yet, and still gambles like a fiend, all while drinking like a fish. This comes back to haunt him when he loses spectacularly at cards, losing all his savings, including the money for the sanatorium. Big Nose Kate, still at war—er, in a relationship with Doc, is less than thrilled by the mess, and refuses to give him a helping hand.
So what’s a doctor-gambler-shootist to do? Why, find the biggest bounty that exists and take it! Wyatt Earp reluctantly tells Doc about the largest bounty available, ten thousand dollars for one Billy the Kid. That’s more than enough to make sure Doc can live as comfortably as one can with advanced tuberculosis. Wyatt warns Doc that the Kid is very skilled, much younger, and much healthier. Doc’s bullheadedness comes to the fore, and the two have a rather potent disagreement about going on the hunt together, leaving Doc on his own.
Of course there’s a catch to the bounty. Geronimo, through one of his shape-shifting warriors, informs Doc Holliday that Billy the Kid is protected by Hook Nose. Between the two medicine men, they have been powerful enough to stop the United States from advancing across the Mississippi. He makes an offer: in exchange for destroying a magically protected building (it withstood cannon bombardment without as much as a dent!) atop sacred burial ground, he will break Hook Nose’s protection over the Kid.
With so much magic at work, the only people who can help are Ned Buntline and Thomas Alva Edison, whose mission is to find a way to counter the medicine man’s magic and allow the United States to fulfill its Manifest Destiny. Between the three of them, surely anything is possible.
Mike Resnick doesn’t disappoint in the second book in the Weird West series. The story builds fast, and is constantly entertaining, with dialogue that is read-out-loud funny. The characters are varied and rich, human, rather than cardboard cutouts of historical figures. The West itself is Weird, of course, but not jarringly so, with advancements taking hold slowly. It’s extremely believable, which contributes to the fun. There’s several surprises in store, ones that even Doc Holliday didn’t see coming.
The Doctor and the Kid is a fun, enjoyable read. I utterly enjoyed this book, and can’t wait to sink my teeth into the third one that’s hopefully coming soon.
—Reviewed by Samantha