In the summer of 1893, Gustav "Old Red" Amlingmeyer and his brother Otto (a.k.a. "Big Red") find themselves down and out in San Francisco. Though cowpokes by training, the brothers are devotees of the late, great Sherlock Holmes and his trademark method of "deducifying." But when they set out to land jobs as professional detectives, they land themselves in hot water, instead.
First their friend Dr. Chan mysteriously takes a potshot at them, fatally wounding Big Red's new hat. Then a secretive young woman from their past pops up and convinces them that Chan's in trouble -- and they're just the men to get him out of it. Unfortunately, they're too late: By the time they track Chan down again, he's dead. The police call it a suicide. Old Red calls that a lie. When he and his brother set out to prove it, they put themselves on a collision course with shady S.F.P.D. cops, brutal Barbary Coast hoodlums and the deadly Chinatown tongs.
Before long, all sides are in a race to uncover the secret that could rock the city. And their only clue to what's actually going on is the enigmatic, exotic and extremely difficult to find "Black Dove."
In Edgar-finalist Hockensmith's rollicking third mystery to feature Old Red and Big Red Amlingmeyer (after 2007's On the Wrong Track), the Sherlock Holmes-loving cowboy brothers do some detectifying in 1893 San Francisco, the world's wickedest city. After their disastrous tour of duty as railway policemen, the Amlingmeyers join forces with the alluring Diane Corvus, another veteran of the railroad. Together, they investigate the death of Dr. Chan, whose luggage was thrown from the same train that the brothers patrolled and who was possibly done in by Chinese highbinders, or hatchet men. Working with local law enforcement and Chinatown's Napoleon of Crime, Old Red and Big Red follow a twisted trail that leads from cabbage vendors to whorehouses. Despite a jam-packed plot, Hockensmith takes longer to reach full speed than in previous outings. Still, readers will delight in the hilarious climactic Mandarin standoff between Chinatown's underworld and Frisco's hapless police force. (Feb.)
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February 18, 2008
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