Sunday, March 18, 2007

Steve Hockensmith's "On the Wrong Track"

Steven Hockensmith applied the Page 69 Test to On the Wrong Track, the second novel in his Holmes on the Range Series.

About the book, from the author:

It may be 1893 and the modern world may be in full swing, but cowboy Gustav "Old Red" Amlingmeyer is an old-fashioned kind of guy: He prefers a long trail ride even when a train could get him where he's going in one-tenth the time. His brother Otto ("Big Red"), on the other hand, wouldn't mind climbing down from his horse and onto a train once in a while if it'll give his saddle-sore rear end a rest.

So when it's Old Red who insists they sign on to protect the luxurious Pacific Express, despite a generations-old Amlingmeyer family distrust of the farm-stealin', cattle-killin', money-grubbin' railroads, Big Red is flummoxed. But Old Red, tired of the cowpoke life, wants to take a stab at professional "detectifying," just like his hero, Sherlock Holmes, and guarding jobs for the railroad are the only ones on offer.

So it is that Big Red and Old Red find themselves trapped on a thousand tons of steam-driven steel, summiting the Sierras en route to San Francisco with a crafty gang of outlaws somewhere around the next bend, a baggage car jam-packed with deadly secrets, and a vicious killer hidden somewhere among the colorful passengers....

Among the praise for On the Wrong Track:

"...hilarious ... uproarious... As this fast-moving express hurtles toward a spectacular ending, Gustav searches for ways to apply Holmes's crime-solving genius to the comic bedlam."
--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"The second entry in this wonderfully entertaining series builds on the comic successes of the first via the sardonic and observant narration of Otto, whose affection for his curmudgeonly brother is ever slowly inching towards admiration. As a lively Holmes take-off, as an inventive melding of mystery and Western genres, and as a new source of damn good reading, this series demands attention."
--Booklist (starred review)

"No sophomore slump in Big Red and Old Red's second case: crackling pace, lots of humor and appealing Wild West flavor."
--Kirkus Reviews

"When not inciting guffaws, California writer Steve Hockensmith manages to establish enough of a plot -- complete with red herrings, gunplay and bad guys -- to keep this story on the straight and narrow, and chugging full steam ahead....This is a fun and entertaining entry in a successful, growing series that might have Sherlock laughing -- if, of course, Sherlock did that sort of thing."
--David Thayer, January Magazine

"Thought Hockensmith couldn't serve up a confection just as entertaining as his debut? Think again. The Amlingmeyer boys are back, traipsing through the Old West solving crimes in the best tradition of Old Red's hero, Sherlock Holmes, strengthening their sibling bond and finding all sorts of new ways to brighten their spirits -- and ours. Unlike so many, this series really does have the potential to go on for many, many installments."
--Sarah Weinman, Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind
Read Hockensmith's interview with Bob Tinsley of The Short of It.

Visit Steve Hockensmith's official website.

The Page 69 Test: On the Wrong Track.

--Marshal Zeringue