2021 New Mexico-Arizona Book Award Winner for Fiction-New Mexico Historical
Like many good stories of the old West, this one begins in a saloon. In 1914 in El Paso, Texas, two strangers strike up a conversation at the bar--Bill Roberts, a real-life figure who died in Hico, Texas, in 1950, and a former US Army scout whose brother knew Roberts by another name: Billy the Kid.
So begins The Gospel According to Billy the Kid, a tale of the old New Mexico territory, corrupt lawmen, honest ranchers, murder, betrayal, and the explosive events of the Lincoln County War that sent young Billy off seeking justice--and headed toward a bloody rendezvous with a sheriff hired to track him down. In the saloon Roberts has us imagine another story, told thirty-three years later over shots of whiskey, about a young outlaw given a second chance to find himself, to find peace, and to finally grow up and out from under the shadow of his own infamy.
"This inventive novel presents a longer life for William H. Bonney, a.k.a. Billy the Kid. . . . A fresh take on his life as a ranch hand and an outlaw in the New Mexico Territory's Lincoln County War."--David Steinberg, Albuquerque Journal
"His action-packed novel spools out a yarn in which Sheriff Pat Garrett fells the wrong guy. . . . In McCarthy's telling, you could almost believe it."--Kate Nelson, New Mexico Magazine
"An inherently fascinating, absorbing, deftly crafted, original, and impressively entertaining novel of the Old West."--Midwest Book Review
"The Gospel According to Billy the Kid manages to be both an homage to the Western genre and a thoughtful critique of the ways in which fact is fashioned into myth."--Ed Tarkington, Chapter 16
"Vivid, haunting. A masterful American tale of violence and redemption."--Laurence Gonzales, author of Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why
"In this breezy, alternative history of the Lincoln County War and the outlaw we know as William H. Bonney, first-time author Dennis McCarthy has fun with the counterfactual claims of Brushy Bill Roberts in 1950. It's a fast, entertaining read."--Ron Hansen, author of The Kid and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
"Just when you think you've read everything that could be written about Billy the Kid, Dennis McCarthy has come up with an engaging, inventive, and unique take on the outlaw legend. Sit back, smile, and enjoy the ride."--Johnny D. Boggs, author of Return to Red River
"Both propulsive and poignant, McCarthy's fresh take on the Billy the Kid legend is both a compelling tale of the old West and an engaging study of one of its most enduring characters."--C. Joseph Greaves, author of Hard Twisted: A Novel
"The Gospel According to Billy the Kid has the pace of a mountain river, moving with a similar power and inevitably toward its destination, yet like a mountain river, Dennis McCarthy's novel has depths that lead us toward profound questions of culpability, forgiveness, and grace, and what realms may lie beyond this world. This novel does what all of the best ones do: we enter them, but they also enter us, and they stay."--Ron Rash, author of In the Valley and Serena: A Novel