"Dazzling. Sherlock Holmes in a Stetson turns out to be a dandy idea."
1893 is a tough year in Montana, and any job is a good job. When brothers Big Red and Old Red Amlingmeyer sign on as ranch hands at a secretive ranch, they're not expecting much more than hard work, bad pay, and a few free moments to enjoy their favorite pastime: reading stories about Sherlock Holmes.
When another hand turns up dead, Old Red sees the perfect opportunity to employ his Holmes-inspired "deducifyin'" skills and sets out to solve the case. Big Red, like it or not (and mostly he does not), is along for the wild ride in this clever, compelling, and completely one-of-a-kind mystery.
Starred Review. Sherlockians, western fans and mystery lovers who enjoy their whodunits leavened with humor should all be delighted by Hockensmith's captivating debut, which features Montana cowboys and brothers Gustav and Otto Amlingmeyer (better known as Old Red and Big Red, respectively). One night in 1892, Old Red becomes smitten with Sherlock Holmes on hearing his brother read "The Red-Headed League" around the campfire during a cattle drive. Determined to follow in his hero's footsteps, Old Red gets the chance to apply the master's methods after some unsavory characters hire the pair to work at a ranch, whose general manager is soon found dead after a stampede. Another man turns up dead, apparently a suicide, just before the British aristocrats who own the ranch arrive to inspect their property. The melding of genres will remind some of the late Bill DeAndrea's western Nero Wolfe pastiches, while the skillful plotting and characterization augur well for the sequel. Hockensmith writes a monthly column for Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine.
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February 05, 2007
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