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Reviewed by Steve Leshin for Readers' Favorite
Adobe Moon, Wyatt Earp: An American Odyssey, Book 1 by Mark Warren maybe answers the question, when did Wyatt Earp become Wyatt Earp? Adobe Moon begins in 1862 with a young teen aged Wyatt who is anxious to grow up and get off the Earp farm in Pella, Iowa, under the dictatorship of his father, Judge Nicholas Earp. A big brother to his siblings, Morgan and Warren, Wyatt abhors farm work and would rather teach his younger brothers how to hunt instead, and does. When Old Nick gets wind of this, Wyatt has hell to pay, or does he? With a calm reserve, rare for someone his age, Wyatt manages to mitigate any punishment by cool logic. Later, he tries to join the Union Army during the Civil War, like his older brothers, Virgil and James, despite his age. The judge catches him and shames young Wyatt into returning home. Adobe Moon is the first book in a trilogy about a western icon who had to grow up fast in rough country in a time of war and self reliance.
Mark Warren does a fine job with Wyatt’s transition to adulthood. In a span of about a decade, Wyatt lives a remarkable life. He takes on many jobs and meets many people. In Lamar, Missouri, he becomes a constable and marries local gal Aurilla Sutherland, only to lose her later on as she gives birth to their still born child from typhus. Understandably this is devastating to Wyatt and he becomes an outlaw. There are adventures, to be sure, on the way to his eventual redemption. He meets up with a future friend, Bat Masterson, amongst others. He finds his way with the help of his brothers, James and Virgil, and circumstances in meetings with shady characters, usually from Texas, that lead to a realization. He grows to be an imposing figure. At over six foot, his calm demeanor, his physical presence and toughness make him the perfect candidate to become Wyatt Earp the lawman.
I think the author did a remarkable job capturing the evolution of Wyatt from a young man to the adult figure who kept his cool at the gunfight behind the O.K. Corral and knew who to stop first once the gunfight began. The carefully crafted dialogue between Wyatt, his family members, his friends and his enemies adds to the rich historical background of the Old West described admirably by Mark Warren. I especially enjoyed the description of the confrontations with a Swedish bully who cheats Wyatt out of money won at a poker game. (Wyatt later rights this wrong.) Then, later on, Wyatt faces down two brothers who killed the sheriff in a town and no one dared try to bring them to justice. It shows the evolution of a young man who becomes a western legend. I recommend Adobe Moon for any reader of historical fiction and Westerns.