[Clavin] does a yeoman’s job of combining original research with a knack for page-turning narrative that gives readers an exciting tour of the celebrated gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Clavin pulls the curtain back on decades of legend surrounding this fight, the town, and its key players.
As [Clavin] explains in an author’s note, he wanted to complete a trilogy he had started with his books Dodge City and Wild Bill. Moreover, he writes, 'I wanted to tell my version of the Tombstone story, to have it refracted through my lens, and along the way provide new and previously overlooked characters and details.' It’s hard to know what those new details might be, since the book includes no notes section and his bibliography lists only secondary sources, which he quotes a bit too freely in the text, sometimes producing a cut-and-paste effect. Yet his account does trot along at a brisk pace: Stressing story line over nuance, Tombstone may appeal more to casual readers curious about the Earp saga.
Tombstone is written in a distinctively American voice. Unfortunately, it’s the voice of Gabby Hayes. Attempts to evoke the period are distractingly strenuous ... Ellipses pimple sentences randomly and often, serving no purpose. The book rattles with clichés like a box of stink bombs ... Tombstone reads like a transcription of Drunk History without the funny parts ... An awkwardly written book can still succeed through new research or interpretations. And I welcome a familiar story told well. But bad writing and unoriginality are not, as Clavin might say, a match made on the high-water mark.