Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Review of "Holmes On the Range", or "I Read My First Holmes On the Range Mystery and Am completely Charmed

A Review of “Holmes On the Range”, or “I Read My First Holmes On the Range Mystery and Am completely Charmed by Steve Hockensmith’s Yarn Spinning and Tale Telling Methodology”


Meet Gustav “Old Red” and Otto “Big Red” Amblingmeyer.  The most unlikely pair of detectives you are likely to run up on should you find yourself somehow drawn back through the mists of time into the great wide open western regions of the United States during the 1890’s.


The brothers, part of a large family of German immigrants and raised by strict Lutheran parents find themselves alone in the world when their Pa and older brothers are taken by small pox and then a few years later, their Ma and little sisters taken by floods that wiped the Kansas plains clean of every evidence of life, including the very grave markers of their Pa and brothers.


While Big Red, the younger brother, has had the good fortune to have had some book learning thanks to the insistence of his Ma and sacrifices of  his siblings, Old Red’s only education has been that of a cowboy, working herds, riding rails and rounding up lost doggies for cattle ranchers in Kansas and Wyoming.


It was while Old Red was away working a distant cattle ranch that the floods that devastated the plains  left Otto, Big Red, alone in the world.  Gustav receives word of his Ma and little sisters tragic deaths and heads  back to Kansas to round up his little brother whom he tells with little fanfare and not much apparent sorrow, although his heart was indeed broken, that Big Red needs to pack up his war bag.  They have jobs waiting for them in Montana.


Entertainment was a little harder to come by a hundred and twenty years ago than it is today.  Yes little buckaroos, no TV, movies, radio, mp3 players, nothing except a few books and magazines.  Ok, there were saloons and dance hall girls, but remember, our characters have had a strict Lutheran upbringing.


So one day Otto finds a copy of Harpers Weekly and begins reading stories from it out loud to Gustav in the evening as they sit around the campfires.  The magazine featured detective stories.  Several  of those stories were written by the venerable Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  The creator of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson.  The first story Otto read to Gustav was “The Big Red League”.  And Gustav, after insisting Otto re-read the story a couple or three dozen times over,  began memorizing phrases and mannerisms of “the man” Sherlock Holmes and was hooked.  Old Red didn’t have much of a formal education, in fact, he had no education at all.  This did not mean he was an “idjit”.  Quite the contrary.  Gus had a keen mind and a real knack for the somewhat scientific art of deducification that would have impressed Mr. Holmes.


Within the first couple chapters of this mostly comical , somewhat tragic, occasionally harrowing story, our heroes have landed jobs on the Bar B R, a cattle ranch owned by some high saluting’  English lords and soon find themselves in the center of a murder, or two, or three, back handed dealing and bullying by over zealous range bosses.


When the second body is discovered, Gustav manages to convince the English owner that foul play may be a foot and a wager between the duke and his wanna be cowboy son give Gustav the opportunity he needs to put the techniques of the man, Sherlock Holmes, to work.


If you are a fan of westerns, detective mysteries, comedy, tragedy, historical fiction and light hearted reading then download this book from the BARD.

NLS Annotation

Holmes on the Range DB63619

Hockensmith, Steve. Read by Jack Fox. Reading time 8 hours 36 minutes.


Montana, 1890s. Sherlock Holmes stories read around the campfire and the frightful remains of Perkins's body convince Old Red to be a detective as well as a cowboy. Soon he and his brother, Big Red, are applying Holmes's methods and stirring up danger.  Some strong language. 2006.


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Your friend In Music (and books),

Dj bowen

Music for Sight 

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