Sequels are rarely as good as the book that inspired them, but this one comes close.  Author Thomas Berger had to perform some situational gymnastics to explain why a continuation of Jack Crabb’s story was possible after the old frontiersman’s death ended the first volume, but once you get past that implausibility the story works pretty well.  After his escape from death at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, Crabb moves on to Deadwood, South Dakota to meet again with his old friend Wild Bill Hickock and, predictably, witnesses the gunfighter’s death in an incredible coincidence.  He next moves on to Dodge City and Tombstone where his path crosses with Bat Masterson, Wyatt Earp, and a batch of other famous gunslingers and characters.  Buffalo Bill Cody’s show is where Crabb ends up, and a full half of the novel concerns his adventures touring with the Wild West show in the Eastern United States and Europe.  There is little romance in the book, unless you want to count Crabb’s attachment to a dog he calls “Pard” or a crusading Indian advocate named Amanda Teasdale who he periodically encounters.  However, her character is never fully developed and is somewhat flat as a result.  I did enjoy this book, but not as much as “Little Big Man.”

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