From the Publisher
"One of the best Holmeses since the originals." John Sandford
"Not only is his Minnesota history excellent, but his history of Sherlock Holmes and his adventures is remarkable. A classic mystery." Steve Thayer
"An eminently credible adventure for fans of the magnificent consulting detective." San Jose Mercury News
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Placing Sherlock Holmes in the pineries of Northern Minnesota in 1894 may not have been a three-pipe problem for Minneapolis architecture columnist Millett (Lost Twin Cities). However, there is little here but smoke and facade. The real and devastating Hinckley, Minn., fire of 1894 serves as the historical backdrop when Holmes is hired by railroad tycoon James J. Hill to find the Red Demon, the man "who is trying to burn down one of his railroads." After arriving in Hinckley to investigate, Holmes and Watson are attacked by feared logger Jean Baptiste LeGrande and rescued by Tom "Boston" Corbett, who claims to have killed John Wilkes Booth. The Town Marshall is murdered before clues lead the London duo to identify the Red Demon and the injury that motivates his actions. The final duel between Holmes and the Red Demon on a burning trestle is gripping, but this action is too little too late. Millett capitalizes on expected Sherlockian gimmicks ("parlor tricks" of deduction, hints of unrecorded grotesque cases, Holmes's masterful disguises and Watson's pomposity) but fails to probe beneath the surface of Holmes's popular image. (Sept.)
An urgent, lucrative demand from railroad tycoon James J. Hill sends Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson to the pine forests of Minnesota, which a letter-writer calling himself the Red Demon has threatened to set afire, destroying 85 miles of Hill's Eastern Minnesota Railway along with the surrounding landscape. Once ensconced in rustic Hinckley, Holmes and Watson visit a den of iniquity called Mother Mary's, where Watson's person undergoes vile indignities at the hands of Laura and Dora, the Jack Pine Twins; outfit themselves as lumberjacks ("You look quite woodsy," Watson tells Holmes) in order to confront a sinister logger in the deep woods, where they're rescued by a messiah in buckskins; and try to read the clues in the disappearance of Hill's agent and the murder of the town marshal ("MARSHAL WILLIAM THOMPSON INCINERATED IN HOMEBULLET IN HIS BRAINFOUL PLAY SUSPECTED," the Hinckley Enterprise sagely reports before the Red Demon can visit a gruesome, fact-based catastrophe on the train tracks, pine trees, and citizens of Hinckley.
Minnesota journalist Millett has mastered neither the cadences nor the exclusions of Watson's narrativethe story is full of tedious details Watson would have excisedbut its colorful, improbable incidents and its attention to clues make it a respectable example of mid-grade Sherlockian foolery. A sequel in St. Paul is hinted.