Vulture Gold takes place in the real West. It starts with a real gold robbery committed in a real place by (mostly) real people. It all seems so real, in fact, that the lines between history and fiction blur, and I’m left with the intriguing game of trying to figure who’s real and who’s not.
Marshal Garet Havelock, I’m pretty sure, is fictional. But he knows a lot of real people, and a lot more real people are familiar with this reputation. “They tell stories about you, man,” one character tells Havelock. “Some put you in the same corral as Longhair Jim Courtwright, Cullen Baker, and young Bill Bonney when it comes to using a gun.” And Havelock himself seems very real. Mr. Chuck Tyrell knows his Old West, and keeps us grounded in it, with real Old West food, weapons, wisdom, scenery, horses, lingo and attitudes.
To bring the gold back to Vulture City, Havelock battles banditos, Apaches, the elements and whole passel of badmen, all the while struggling with his own troubles - a half-Cherokee heritage and half a left knee. And along the way he meets a vast array of characters who may or may not be real. Here’s what I think I know so far:
REAL: Marshal M.K. Meade, Francisco Valenzuela, Al Sieber, Ike Clanton, Chief Puma
MAYBE REAL: Mountain Ebson, Big Phil Jackson, Sally Mae Peebles, Marshal Rodney Clayborne, Horn Stalker
JUST POSSIBLY REAL: Tom Morgan, Timothy Hunter, John Frederick Holmes
PROBABLY NOT REAL: Barnabas Donovan, his brother Arch, sister Laura, Juanito O’Rourke
‘Course, I could be way off. Anyone care to set me straight?
Vulture Gold (Hale, 2005 and Linford Western Library, 2006) was Chuck Tyrell's first book. A sequel, Revenge at Wolf Mountain (Hale, 2006 and Dales, 2007) has since appeared, along with a spin-off about Havelock's brother, Trail of a Hard Man (Hale, 2006 and Dale, 2007). More books are on the way, and I'll be watching for them.