Holmes on the Range (Holmes on the Range Series #1)

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Overview

1893 is a tough year in Montana, and any job is a good job. When Big Red and Old Red Amlingmeyer sign on as ranch hands at the secretive Bar-VR cattle spread, they're not expecting much more than hard work, bad pay, and a comfortable campfire around which they can enjoy their favorite pastime: scouring Harper's Weekly for stories about the famous Sherlock Holmes. When another ranch hand turns up in an outhouse with a bullet in his brain, Old Red sees the perfect opportunity to put his Holmes-inspired detective talents to work and solve the case. Big Red, like it or not (and mostly he does not), is along for the wild ride in this clever, compelling, and completely one-of-a-kind mystery.

1893 is a tough year in Montana, and any job is a good job. When Big Red and Old Red Amlingmeyer sign on as ranch hands at the secretive Bar-VR cattle spread, they're not expecting much more than hard work, bad pay, and a comfortable campfire around which they can enjoy their favorite pastime: scouring Harper's Weekly for stories about the famous Sherlock Holmes.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Award-winning narrator William Dufris gives a virtuoso performance on this enormously entertaining tale of Gustave "Old Red" Amlingmeyer, a Montana cowboy who dreams of being a western Sherlock Holmes. When mysterious murders occur on the ranch where he and his brother are working, Old Red sees his chance and immediately sets out to sniff out the culprit. The story is told in first person by the would-be detective's kid brother, Otto ("Big Red"), and with an authentic western drawl Dufris slips into the role as comfortably as an old pair of cowboy boots, conveying Big Red's amiability and frequent befuddlement as he struggles to keep up with his older brother's "deducifyin' ". Dufris creates believable, distinctive voices for a large and colorful cast-among them the gravel-voiced ranch foreman, a Cockney cowboy, a pompous English duke and his ladylike daughter and a Swedish cook-and does it so well that a listener might well believe he's listening to a full troupe of actors. A truly gifted narrator, memorable characters and a tale full of adventure and humor-what more could an audiobook fan ask for? Simultaneous release with the St. Martin's Minotaur hardcover (Reviews, Nov. 7). (May) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Forbes Magazine
Sherlock Holmes is indirectly involved in Hockensmith’s mystery. A couple of colorful cowboys, brothers Gustav (Old Red) and Otto (Big Red) Amlingmeyer find themselves employed at a mysterious ranch. Foul play is afoot, and, having read Watson’s stories about his illustrious companion in magazines, the brothers employ Holmesian methods to try to solve the case of how an albino cowboy turned up dead in a locked outhouse, as well as another death that looks accidental--but isn’t. The brothers’ adventure involves plenty of sleuthing and many unusual characters, including an English lord and a man-eating mountaineer aptly named Hungry Bob. A wild, well-told western mystery. (27 Mar 2006)
—Steve Forbes
Kirkus Reviews
Inspired by the Baker Street genius, a Montana cowboy solves some murders at the cattle ranch where he works. Redheaded cowpoke Gustav Amlingmeyer ("Old Red") has a hankering for the adventures of Sherlock Holmes. After reading Doyle's "The Red-Headed League," he feels that emulating the famous sleuth is his destiny. Gustav's younger brother Otto ("Big Red"), playing Watson to his brother's Holmes, relates a tale evocative of sagebrush and cactus. The brothers sign on for a hitch at the Bar-VR cattle ranch, where they work alongside a quirky collection of ranch hands with handles like Swivel-Eye and Crazymouth. Tough as they are, a chill goes through the group when they learn that a frontier cannibal named Hungry Bob has escaped from jail. An ornery hand named Perkins disappears, and it's naturally assumed that Hungry Bob is the culprit. Only Old Red has a contrary opinion and sets out to prove it, risking retaliation from both his cranky cohorts and the killer, if there is one. More mystifying is the death of the albino foreman Boudreaux, found locked in the outhouse clutching his Peacemaker. Looks like a suicide, but Old Red effectively dissects the evidence and makes a case for murder. Can the solution be far behind?Hockensmith's debut is a winning twist on a proven franchise. Playful chapter titles add authenticity and flavor.
From the Publisher
"Captivating.... The skillful plotting and characterization augur well for the sequel." —-Publishers Weekly Starred Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312358044
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 2/6/2007
  • Series: Holmes on the Range Series , #1
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 646,468
  • Product dimensions: 8.04 (w) x 5.40 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author


Steve Hockensmith writes a monthly column for Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, and he is the author of Holmes on the Range, an Edgar Award finalist and the beginning of his highly successful Holmes on the Range mystery series.

William Dufris has been nominated nine times as a finalist for the APA's prestigious Audie Award and has garnered tweny-one Earphones Awards from AudioFile magazine, which also named him one of the Best Voices at the End of the Century.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 22 )
Rating Distribution

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(11)

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(8)

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(3)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 21 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 23, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Great Holmes imitation, but oh, that title!

    I'm sure Steve Hockensmith could've come up with a better title than "Holmes on the Range". It's really a terrible pun, but that doesn't distract from the story he's telling. <BR/><BR/>Gustav "Old Red" and Otto "Big Red" Amlingmeyer sign on as hired hands of a sort at the Bar VR ranch somewhere in Montana near the end of the 19th century, where it becomes more than obvious that there's something funny going on. Old Red has become a fan of Sherlock Holmes after hearing his brother read him some of the Holmes stories (Old Red is illiterate) and decides to emulate his hero by, in his words, deducifyin' what's going on at the ranch. <BR/><BR/>The deducifyin' is worthy of the great man himself, although Old Red is not an exact imitation of Holmes. No one could be - Holmes was, emotionally speaking, a virtual automaton, and Old Red shows more signs of humanity than Holmes ever did. I was completely bamboozled right up until the end and look forward to reading more about Gustav and Otto (who is, by the way, nothing like Watson, save that he's the narrator of this tale and acts as the intellectual foil for Gustav, just as Watson did for Holmes). <BR/><BR/>The supporting characters are interesting as well. The McPherson brothers were properly villainous and would have fit right into "A Study in Scarlet" or "The Valley of Fear". And I also like how Hockensmith borrowed from the tale of "The Noble Bachelor" to bring in the characters of the Duke of Balmoral and his entourage. <BR/><BR/>I was, however, somewhat disappointed by the rest of the so-called "Hornet's Nesters" who shared quarters with Big Red and Old Red. They kind of reminded me of stock characters in the old Western movies and with one exception didn't really seem to serve much purpose in the story. <BR/><BR/>The jacket of this book mentions that Hockensmith has written some short stories about Old Red and Big Red that appear in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. I think I'll see if I can find some of those stories.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Hilarious

    This book was laugh out loud funny and engaging mystery. I loved it. Am now reading the second in the series and will look forward to future adventures with Big Red and Old Red! This is a great book to start young people out in the mystery genre.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 1, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A wonderful vacation/rainy day book! ! !

    The cover of this book is reminiscent of a Remington painting, it was found in the clearance bin of one of my dealers and turned out to be a treasure (except for one flaw, see below). I have enjoyed the occasional mystery and prefer the Sherlock Holmes type when I do read from that genre; after reading Lonesome Dove, I have a certain affinity for tales of the Old West. This book encapsulates both tastes in a well-paced tale of life on a Montana cattle ranch, the Cantlemere Ranche, and the mystery surrounding that sinister patch of land.
    The detectives are Gustav (Old Red) and Otto (Big Red) Amlingmeyer, brothers and the last of their lineage (the rest of their family having been either dispensed by disease or carried off by flood, along with their farm) who are cattle drovers. At least they were cattle drovers until they were hired on at the "Bar VR," as the ranch is known, and a couple of deaths add mystery to the already shadowy cattle farm. Big Red ("size-wise I'm just a shade smaller than your average house" p.5), the youngest of his clan, is the only member of his family who learned to read, Old Red ("having as he does a crotchety side more befitting a man of seventy-two than twenty-seven"), the eldest of said clan, enjoyed the Sherlock Holmes mysteries read to him by his brother from penny dreadfuls and Harper's Bizarre Magazine. Because of his brothers reading, "Some folks get religion. Gustav got Sherlock Holmes." His interest shows to be more than a literary enjoyment, as he proves to be a better detective than a drover, and he is a superior cattle wrangler.
    The story is narrated by Otto (Big Red) who uses wonderful, pithy, sometimes very colorful ways to describe what is occurring within the story. Big Red is known for being overly verbose and he stands true to that reputation in the telling of this yarn. His powers of observation may be far short of those of his brother, but his ability to relate the action is second to no one. He plays well Dr. Watson to Old Red's Sherlock Holmes.
    There were moments in reading this book where I had to stop reading to giggle, then read the sentence again, then stop to laugh. Mr. Hockensmith borrows heavily from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes mysteries but adds humor in abundance and treats Mr. Holmes as a historic character, which adds unexpected depth to the tale here told. The characters, with the exception of the Amlingmeyer brothers, are largely recycled characters from other mysteries but the reader is entranced by the book's setting, the predicaments the brothers address and Big Red's constant commentary. The author made the ending too neat and tidy for the set up and plot development given throughout the book and this is the flaw in the book. The ending will not "ruin" the book, but it detracts from its otherwise freshness and creativity.
    This is a book easily read over a rainy weekend, barring prolonged and frequent periods of laughter. These are cowboys doing most of the talking, so the language is colorful. There are multiple deaths, one very gruesome, graphically described. There is little of true value to be found in this book beyond laughter and a good read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2007

    Outstanding Reading!

    I'm not a big fan of either the mystery or Western genres but I bought this book on a whim. And - wow! - what a delightful find. The book draws you into it with its folksy, quirky twists. Before you realize it, you're hooked into an amusing page turner. Mr. Hockensmith has created - I hope - a great new series starring the Amlingmeyer brothers.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2006

    Finally, It's AVAILABLE

    I've read Hockensmith in the monthly mystery mags and these characters are always a joy to find. This is a must get and savor book. If you love mysteries and you love the west, you'll love what Hockensmith has created. I read close to 20 books a week and write inbetween, plus work full-time. This one is definitely going to be read and placed with the keepers.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 5, 2012

    Colorful characters lead us to a surprise ending.

    I fully enjoy reading this mystery. Two bumbling brothers struggle to solve a murder on a large cattle ranch. I also learn new things about what cattle drovers are expected to do on the job. All the characters are pretty well created because you can't help forming emotions toward them. That, and the actions within the story make this one fun read. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 24, 2011

    Not as funny as I thought it would be, but still funny and exciting.

    It starts off a little slow as it is introducing the mystery and the characters, but after awhile it gets exciting and the mystery is a good one. Some twists you'll figure out but others will surprise you.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2006

    Great Book!

    This is a very rewarding and satisfying twist on the Sherlock Holmes pastiche. Hockensmith's writing is unobtrusive, yet compelling. You NEVER here the typewriter in the background as one often does while reading genre fiction. It's too bad the producers of PBS's Mystery aren't particularly adventurous because this would make a fantastic beginning to a marvelous TV serial. Let's hope Hockensmith has more planned for the future.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Refreshing take on the Holmes mystique

    In 1892 during a cattle drive in Montana, Otto ¿Big Red¿ Amlingmeyer reads aloud around the campfire from the novel the Red Headed League. His brother Gustav, known as ¿Big Red¿ enjoys the cleverness of the lead protagonist, Sherlock Holmes, vowing to emulate his new hero as he believes he has deduced his life¿s calling.----- After spending most of their money in Miles City, the ¿Red¿ siblings obtain work at the Bar VR Ranch. Not long afterward the manager Perkins, who never works outside, dies in a stampede that everyone assumes is a tragic accident that is everyone except Big Red wearing his Holmes hat wonders if a murder occurred. When a second person dies allegedly a suicide, Big Red shifts to high sleuthing gear as he knows something a foul is a foot.------ This refreshing take on the Holmes mystique will have the audience hooked from the first fumble by Big Red and keep readers enthralled until the final solution when the obvious is set aside. The story line deftly blends the Wild West with sleuthing so that fans of the great detective will enjoy leaving Baker St for Montana while the historical Americana crowd will appreciate this deep tale. Elementary readers, a sequel is a must.---- Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 18, 2012

    Love this series!!!

    Great combination of humor and mystery. Fans of sherlock holmes should read this book.

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    Posted February 4, 2011

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    Posted December 23, 2009

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    Posted September 13, 2012

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    Posted November 11, 2010

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    Posted March 30, 2011

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