Wednesday, December 30, 2015

loopyker's #CBR7 Review #09: World's Greatest Sleuth! by Steve Hockensmith

I first discovered Steve Hockensmith in my library with his Pride and Prejudice and Zombies books.  While I am a big fan of the original Pride and Prejudice, I thoroughly enjoyed Hockensmith's addition of the zombies and his humour, so looked for more of his books.

World's Greatest Sleuth! audiobook coverHappily, my library has the Holmes on the Range mystery series as audiobooks, and I listened to the first four in quick succession.  By the last one, The Crack in the Lens, it was getting a little repetitive and I didn't enjoy it as much, but still hoped there would be more.  And recently I discovered my library has added the 5th audiobook, World's Greatest Sleuth!

Brothers, Gustav (Old Red) and Otto (Big Red)  Amlingmeyer are the stars of this series.  American cowboys in the 1890s. The older one, Gustav, is reserved and illiterate, but is fascinated by Sherlock Holmes' skill at detecting after his brother reads him the stories.  They, somewhat understandably, believe the stories are about a real detective.  Gustav has his own skill at detective work and with the help of his brother, they solve several mysteries, becoming their own unlikely version of Sherlock and Watson.

The narrator of the audiobooks, William Dufris, makes it obvious that these books don't take themselves seriously.  Otto is an over-the-top cowboy caricature telling the stories as he writes about their adventures, but that becomes part of the charm and humour of the series.  William does an excellent job at bringing this to life in a way for listeners to "get it".

I'm not sure if it was the break in listening to them, or the plot, but I thoroughly enjoyed The World's Greatest Sleuth! as an improvement to the last one.  The brothers are now in Chicago at the 1893 World's Fair: Columbian Exposition to enter into an amateur sleuthing competition.  There is a lot of fun at their expense with the circus atmosphere and their publisher trying to make them into even more larger-than-life characters.

The contest proves to be a big farce, but of course another "real" mystery happens along the way that needs their skills.

Knowing nothing about The Chicago World's Fair, I assume the well-known attractions that are part of the story are accurate with some other ones thrown in for the story.  Overall, it gives you a good feel for the atmosphere of the time and how out of their element the brothers are.

I highly recommend the books as audiobooks if you can find them, or print books if you can't, but do not start with this one.  The first one is Holmes on the Range, so you can start with a proper set up to the brothers.   This 5th book has a lot of references back to the other books, so I do suggest reading them in order, but it is probably OK to skip to this one if you have read only a couple of the previous ones.

4 stars

Title: World's Greatest Sleuth!: A Holmes on the Range Mystery
Author: Steve Hockensmith

Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length: 9 hours and 31 minutes
Narrator: William Dufris
Publisher: Tantor Audio (January 18, 2011)

Other Formats: hardcover/Kindle ebook
Print length:  336 pages
Publisher: Minotaur Books; First Edition edition (January 18, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0312379439
ISBN-13: 978-0312379438
Kindle ASIN: B004477WF6

Rating system:
1 star (didn't like); 2 stars (OK); 3 stars (good); 4 stars (very good); 5 stars (favourite)
Also check out Cannonball Read for a variety of book reviews from many others.

No comments: