Holmes on the Range
When a writer mixes genres, such as a Sherlock Holmes-style mystery and a Western, you hold your breath. Can two such disparate styles of storytelling mix without a jarring clash? Steve Hockensmith gives us reason to exhale and relax. The first-time novelist writes a great Western and does equal justice to Holmes between the covers of his new book. His main characters, brothers Gustav and Otto Amlingmeyer, are cowboys to the tips of their worn-out boots. Yet Gustav’s fascination with the deductions of Sherlock Holmes, as told in a popular magazine, convinces him to imitate his hero. His brother Otto soon becomes his Watson. Hockensmith gives the detecting duo not one but two murders to solve, and a cast of suspects that fill their Montana ranch. We have a villainous ranch boss, a class-conscious British aristocrat and an escaped convict who’s also a cannibal.
The plot would make Arthur Conan Doyle smile in recognition. Hockensmith gives us enough clues to think the solution is just beyond our grasp. Yet the story as told by Otto has a true Western voice. The brothers seem real as does their affection for each other. To top it all off, Otto has a great sense of humor that he shares with us on every page. Western lovers and Sherlock Holmes lovers alike will enjoy this new novel.