The Maniac Collector's Inbox (253)
April 8, 2007
On the Wrong Track
For those out there who are not familiar with Steve Hockensmith's work, you really do need to get with the program. The stories are some of the freshest around. They are fun and more plausible than most of the so-called pastiches that have managed to get published in recent years. Gustav "Old Red" and Otto "Big Red" Amlingmeyer are deducin' and detectin' again and this time it’s on a train.
On the Wrong Track published by St. Martin's Minotaur in February 2007, is the second "Holmes on the Range" novel featuring the Amlingmeyer brother. Gustav, is the illiterate, older brother who has taking a liking to Sherlock Holmes' methodology for solving crimes. He was introduced to Holmes when his brother, Otto, read him one of the stories that appeared in Harper's Weekly. In On the Wrong Track the brothers sign up to work undercover on the Southern Pacific railroad on the run between Slat Lake City and San Francisco.
Before too long heads start rolling in the most literal of fashion. Gustav, know to most as "Old Red" is not very comfortable around anything the "modern" world has to offer and boarding the train, his first ride ever, nearly does him in. Simply boarding the train makes "Old Red" so sick, he is forced to the last to revisit his lunch. While leaned over the rail, the first dead body rolls out from beneath the train. The entire trainload of passengers seem suspicious to "Old Red". Only then does "Old Red" snap out of the train-riding induced misery. The next 200 pages fly down the track, as a run-a-way train on empty tracks.
"Old Red" applies Holmes’ type of deduction and crime solving methods. He is such a curmudgeon but this attitude is the perfect match for the narrative style his brother Otto, "Big Red" uses to allow the story to unfold. His sardonic observations are just as brilliant as his brother's observations and deductions.
The first Amlingmeyer brother story appeared in the February 2003 issue of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine in "Dear Mr. Holmes." The series is a wonderful twist on the Holmes saga, not being a pastiche, but an admirer of Holmes who uses his deductive reasoning and ratiocination to solve mysteries.
Check this out for an express train ride worth its' weight in gold.