This is the first in a series of totally fictional adventures starring Wild
Bill Hickok, published a few years ago by Leisure. The author, Judd Cole, is probably really a New Orleans writer named John Edward Ames, who also wrote the Cheyenne series under that name.
The gimmick, at least in this book, is the old chestnut about a young
reporter from back East tagging along with Wild Bill in order to write a
series of articles about his adventures. It works pretty well in this case
because the reporter, Joshua Robinson, is such a likable character. In
fact, everybody in the book except the villains is pretty likable. Wild
Bill is a little crusty, but he takes Josh under his wing and a real
friendship develops between the two.
As for the plot, Wild Bill is hired by Allan Pinkerton to guard an eccentric scientist who has invented a machine that makes ice. Business rivals want to kill the scientist and steal the secret of his invention during a cross-country train trip intended to show off the newfangled contraption. Wild Bill not only has to deal with that but also with a lovesick Calamity Jane, who has been chasing him around the country determined to marry him.
All this is every bit as silly as it sounds. The book is also crammed full of historical inaccuracies and anachronisms. It's enough to drive anyone who takes Westerns seriously a little nuts. And yet, I enjoyed it quite a bit. The author writes with such enthusiasm and is clearly having so much fun with what he's doing that I was willing to forget about accuracy and accept the setting as some sort of bizarre alternate universe West. I intend to find and read the rest of the books in the series, and I can recommend this one to anybody who is willing to put tongue firmly in cheek and not expect anything too realistic.