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.