By Steve Hockensmith
Minotaur Books, January 2011
It’s 1893 and things finally seem to be going right for Otto “Big Red” Amlingmeyer and his brother Gustav “Old Red.” After years of hard knocks, they have a bit of money and some spare time – time enough to take a hard look at something from Old Red’s past. Years before, Old Red lost his fiancée to a brutal killer and the local authorities swept the case under the rug. Now, Old Red is determined to find out what really happened and to secure a measure of justice for his beloved. But everyone in town wants the secrets of the past to remain buried forever…and possibly have the brothers buried with them! It’s a puzzle that’s twisted enough to confound even that most unconfoundable of men, their mutual inspiration: Sherlock Holmes.
This is the fourth book to feature the Amlingmeyer brothers.
Steve Hockensmith presents the reader with a murder mystery that sees some very emotional revelations about Old Red that will not only surprise long time readers of this series, but Big Red too. With no real leads to help them solve this five-year-old murder case the brothers find themselves in all kinds of danger from people unknown. For instance the book opens with them both about to be strung up. How they escape being imprisoned and/or death makes for some very exciting reading.
The story is told through the eyes of Big Red, and as always he has many humorous views on events that befall them. The comical moments contrast well with the darker, more sinister, developments of the investigation. Events move forwards at a cracking pace and most chapters end with a cliff-hanger situation for our heroes.
Not only are the Amlingmeyer brothers very memorable characters but so are the supporting cast, even how Steve Hockensmith has one of his female characters speak – you’ll have to read the book to see what I mean. All the clues are there but I didn’t pick up on them until the author wanted me to, thus the suspense was kept high, urging me to keep reading.
The case is finally cracked in a dramatic and deadly scene that sees one of the brothers suffering a setback, an injury that it seems he will carry into the next story, which means I’ve just got to start reading that one very soon to see if he fully recovers. What I do know is that I’m sure I’ll find the next book just as entertaining as this one. Highly recommended.