Sherlock wannabes track a killer on a train.
Despite having solved a devilish murder just a year ago (Holmes on the Range, 2006), the Amlingmeyer brothers are out of work and rubbing their last nickels together in the Utah Territory in 1893. Gustav, known as Old Red, still dreams of being a frontier Sherlock Holmes. His younger brother Otto, Big Red, plays Watson by faithfully recording their exploits. They get turned down at the Pinkerton Office, but famous lawman Burl Lockhart offers them a second chance as part of a special team on the Pacific Express, just arrived in Ogden. The boys are chagrined to find themselves stuck on the train as glorified security guards. Others on board include dignified Dr. Chan, a victim of loutish fellow passengers’ racism, and Diana Caveo, a lively love interest. When a disreputable passenger literally loses his head, Otto swings into full Holmes mode, methodically questioning witnesses and searching the train. An eloquent tramp who calls himself El Numero Uno, “The King of the Hoboes,” is seized as the likeliest suspect, but Otto neatly deduces that Numero Uno could not have committed the crime. When Numero Uno himself is murdered, the tension ramps up and the brothers get down to some serious sleuthing.
No sophomore slump in Big Red and Old Red’s second case: crackling pace, lots of humor and appealing Wild West flavor.