Book Reviews

Skull in the Ashes

(University of Iowa Press, $19.95)


Click image above for larger view

In the early morning hours of February 3, 1897, Frank Novak’s dry goods store—in the small Iowa town of Walford—went up in flames.

The townspeople assumed the charred remains found the next day were Novak’s, but evidence suggests otherwise. Peter Kaufman’s Skull in the Ashes: Murder, a Gold Rush Manhunt and the Birth of Circumstantial Evidence in America is a lucid and meticulously researched account of this remarkable case. The mystery reads like a lively adventure yarn, as detective J.J. “Red” Perrin tracks the fugitive Novak for thousands of miles up through the wildest reaches of Alaska and the Yukon Territory.

While the Novak case made for lurid headlines, it also heralded the early use of photography, forensics and other investigative techniques that have quickly become the standard procedure in crime investigation today. Skull in the Ashes is a gripping, absorbing read.

—Patrick Millikan, editor of Phoenix Noir

True Westerners

Andy Thomas

Andy Thomas

Charlie Russell is special because he combined artwork with authentic cowboys, In...

Dark Starr

Dark Starr

One hundred years ago this month, Henry Starr set out to make history. The caree...

The West’s Newest Museum

The West’s Newest Museum

We will be a living institution. We will offer experiences. We will be the story...

True West Site Guide


True West captures the spirit of the American West with authenticity, personality and humor by linking our history to our present. Whether you call it the Wild West, the Old West or the Far West, America's frontier history comes to life in True West, the world's oldest, continuously published Western Americana magazine.

Western movie fans, re-enactors, history buffs and road warriors, we got your history covered: outlaw, cowboy, Indian, lawman, gunfighter, fur trapper, miner, prospector, gambler, soldier, entertainer and pioneer. Check out these True Westerners now!

Product of the Month

The Illustrated Life and Times of Wyatt Earp

Wyatt Earp

"Your book is fascinating, coupling your powerful illustrations [and] tracking...from birth to Tombstone to the legend [Wyatt] had become;...even Wyatt would approve." --By Hugh O'Brian, of the TV series The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp

"Hands down the definitive books on Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday." --By Allen Barra, New York Newsday