World's Greatest Sleuth! (Holmes on the Range Mysteries) (Holmes on the Range Mystery) Hardcover – 18 Jan 2011
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About the Author
STEVE HOCKENSMI TH is a widely published journalist and author of the critically acclaimed, award-nominated novels featuring Old Red and Big Red, including "Holmes on the Range."
Top customer reviews
They are thrilled to be reunited with the mystery and beautiful Diana. However, their enjoyment is tempered by Armstrong Curtis. The man has recently unmasked one dime novel hero as a fraud and had set his sights on those in the competition. The second morning, the contest leads all the detectives to Armstrong's very dead body. While almost everyone wants to chalk it up to an accident, Old Red is certain it is murder. And with all the secrets their competitors have, there is no lack of motive. Can Old Red figure out who killed Armstrong and why?
I've loved these books since I stumbled on the first one, and this was no exception. I found the setting of a World's Fair fun and fascinating. I did have trouble keeping all the various sleuths and their publishers straight for a while, but the cheat sheet in the front of the book really helped me with that. The plot may have gotten bogged down a time or two, but it soon picked up again with plenty of fun surprises to keep me guessing until the end.
These cowboy detectives continue to entertain. If you haven't met them yet, you're in for a treat. And if you are already fans, you'll find their latest is another fun trip.
This time we find the brothers once more taken out of their, "comfort zone," of the open plains and deposited in the big city (as in Hockensmith's third novel, "The Black Dove") when they are summoned by Big Red's publisher to Chicago and its World's Fair in order to take part in a competition amongst the leaders, and their fellow dime-novel heroes, in the field of amateur, "deducifyin'," with the winner being crowned, "World's Greatest Sleuth!"
However, this being an Amlingmeyer Brother's adventure after all, it is not long before the seemingly innocent test of their skills turns all too deadly when the competition's organiser becomes an apparent victim (to Old Red, at least) of, "murder by giant cheese," and the boys find themselves up against not only a highly dangerous and devious killer, but their fellow sleuths (not to mention the local police) as well. As the biggest problem standing in the Amlingmeyer's way is that no one else actually believes there has been a murder at all! Faced with opposition at every turn, as well as several dubious bearded, fake-bearded and non-bearded men, some of whom apparently wish to do the brothers some serious harm, it will take all of the Amlingmeyer's, "deducifyin'," skills to unravel the mystery and be crowned, "World's Greatest Sleuth!"
As ever, Hockensmith has crafted a wonderful, intelligent and extremely funny, murder-mystery around our two heroes and populated it with a cast of the most brilliant new characters (as well as a couple of familiar faces). To anyone who has read this series of novels from the start, the Amlingmeyer's are like old friends by now, but one of the strengths of the series is how Hockensmith allows the relationship between the two brothers to grow with each book. With each, successive story we learn a little bit more about each of them and witness them grow, not just as detectives, but as people too, and it is that underlying theme of friendship, respect and love between the brothers that gives the stories such a wonderful foundation to build on. Even if it is quite often hidden behind some hilarious insults and regular threats of bodily harm to one another.
Another thing you can count on is for Hockensmith to populate his novels with a cast of brilliant, amusing, beautifully realised characters for the brothers to do battle against (or sometimes alongside) and, "World's Greatest Sleuth!" is no exception. From their perennially pessimistic publisher, who might have a more desperate motive for inviting the Amlingmeyer's along despite what Big Red's ego is telling him, to a true, English, Sherlock Holmes, "wannabe," a French detective who is part-Poirot, part-Clouseau and a square-jawed, big city, sleuth with an apparent bowel problem, the novel is filled with magnificent characters. Including a certain female detective, and old acquaintance of the brother's, whose continued, developing relationship is one of the highlights of the book.
Hockensmith paints an excellent picture of Chicago during the World's Fair of 1893, bringing every glorious detail, and its effect on the Amlingmeyer's who find themselves unexpectedly in the middle of it, gloriously to life as the pair race from one deduction, and danger, to the next. All whilst exhibiting their typical, hilarious, sense of humour. Whether it's a clever turn of phrase, a witty (or sarcastic) put-down or an inspired piece of slapstick, Hockensmith's novels never fail to make me laugh (quite often uproariously) amidst the clever mystery and, "World's Greatest Sleuth!" is certainly no exception to that rule.
Based on all the, "clues," and, "evidence," on display here, I, for one, cannot wait for the return of the Amlingmeyer Brother's in their next adventure. And, should you heed my advice and read this superb novel, I think it is a safe bit of, "deducifyin'," to say you will find yourself in the exact same position.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
In anticipation, great minds have set up a contest at the Chicago World's Columbian Exhibition, the magnificent "White City" promoting the wonders, natural and mechanical, of the turn-of-the-century world. Invited detectives will solve a series of clues over three days. The winner will earn a cash prize and be declared the World's Greatest Sleuth - presuming that someone needs to inherit the title from Sherlock Holmes.
Old Red in invited to compete, given that McClure's Magazine has published four of Big Red's stories celebrating his brother's deducifying abilities. Successful detecting he's undertaken only, and Old Red would be the first to say this, because he tries his best to emulate his hero, Sherlock Holmes.
So, courtesy of their agent, our favorite cowboy detectives head to Chicago to take part in the contest. There's a temporary stop in the contest, when the clue-maker is discovered dead in a vat of cheese. Fortunately, all his clues have been completed, and the contest can continue. From then on, the boys are caught between trying to win the contest and trying to solve the murder.
I am a big fan of the Holmes on the Range series. Great humor and great writing. Sometimes, the plotting gets a little wordy, but the background and characterizations are great. Here's a quote from when they're hot on the trail:
"Under nomral circumstances, taking Gustav Amlingmeyer to get a shoeshine would make about as much sense as taking a pack mule for a pedicure..... But Old Red had a reason to shed some of his hard-earned grime now. We were on our way to see Pyle, the bootblack who shined shoes for the Columbian's guests.... My brother still had dung on the brain (as opposed to dung FOR brains he frequently accused me of). If anyone had come back to the hotel the previous night with especially feculent feet, this Pyle might be our last chance to fin d out about it."
Ever since reading Erik Larson's "The Devil in the White City", I have been fascinated with the details of the great Chicago World's Fair of 1893, and I enjoyed the historical tidbits Steve Hockensmith includes in this Amlingmeyer outing.
I am so glad I found "Holmes on the Range" early on and have now read the entire series (a couple of times). The second reading may even be better because knowing the denouement, I can appreciate the getting to it even more!
The question, Mr. Hockensmith, is WHEN? How long do we have to wait for the next installment. I for one cannot wait!
As the series has progressed, Steve has taken his characters away from the wild west and has them explorering a rapidly developing society and the series is all the better for it. Have you ever read a series of books that has no real character progression and are interchangable? Think of some of the western series on your local book stores shelves that number in the hundreds for what I am talking about. These characters have grown, each novel is different from the previous and I have enjoyed reading each and every one of them. I think you might too.
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