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Extended Audio Sample The Crack in the Lens, by Steve Hockensmith Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (245 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Steve Hockensmith Narrator: William Dufri Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Related: The Holmes on the Range Mysteries Release Date:
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In 1893, Otto “Big Red” Amlingmeyer and his brother, Gustav “Old Red,” find themselves in a situation that they never expected: they have a bit of money and time to do something other than scramble. It’s enough to confound even that most unconfoundable of men, their mutual inspiration, Sherlock Holmes.

So Old Red decides that it’s time for the two of them to head off to the Texas hill country, to San Marcos, and deal with the greatest tragedy of Old Red’s life. Five years ago, when Old Red was a cowpoke in San Marcos, he had a sweetheart—a fallen woman at the local house of ill repute. They had made plans, but before they made their big move, his fiancée was murdered and the case was swept under the rug by the local authorities.

Now Old Red is determined to find out what really happened and to finally find a measure of justice for his beloved. But Big Red and Old Red find themselves facing a wall of silence and in some of the worst situations of their lives: ensnared in a riot at the local cathouse, on the wrong end of a lynching party, and, perhaps worst of all, having to do the one thing you never want to do in the state of Texas: steal horses.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Two cowboy brothers turn themselves into Wild West ‘deducifiers’ in the manner of Holmes and Watson—how cute is that? Not only cute but clever, as Steve Hockensmith demonstrates in The Crack in the Lens.”

    New York Times

  • “The laconic Old Red, whose life took an unexpected turn after his brother introduced him to the deductive methods of Sherlock Holmes, reveals that the love of his life, hooker Gertrude Eichelberger, was murdered in San Marcos five years earlier. The pair’s efforts to investigate put them at odds with the local pimps as well as the law. The brothers discover that Gertrude was but the first victim of a serial killer, who modeled his crimes after Jack the Ripper. The personal stake Old Red has in catching the murderer adds an emotional dimension to the puzzle, which Edgar-finalist Hockensmith nicely leavens with witty prose and cliffhanging chapter endings.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Sally | 2/18/2014

    " This is the 4th book in a series known as "Holmes on the Range", featuring two cowboy brothers, Otto "Big Red" and Gustav "Old Red" Amlingmeyer. I enjoyed the first two a lot (Holmes on the Range and On the Wrong Track) the third (The Black Dove) not as much, and with this one I am having trouble deciding whether I liked it or not. What I do like about this series is the characters of Otto and Gustav and the settings in the Old West cowboy days. Gustav is illiterate, but his brother Otto reads to him the stories of Sherlock Holmes. It is implied that Holmes was a real person, and not just a fictional character. Gustav is a perceptive person, and gets the idea in his head that he can solve mysteries in the way that Holmes did - through observation and thinking. In this story, Gustav wants to solve the murder of a woman he had fallen in love with 5 years before, but begins to doubt his ability to do it in a Holmes manner - thus the "crack in the lens" of investigation. The story is narrated from the viewpoint of Otto, and he has some droll ways of looking at things and spouts some entertaining metaphors. I guess what bothered me most about this story was the focus on the role of prostitutes in the Old West days and the fact that Gustav accepted that the woman he loved, a prostitute, continued to "serve" customers, even though it was something she was enslaved to and may not have been her choice of lifestyle to continue, given a way out of it. The other disturbing thing was the butchering of some women in the manner of Jack the Ripper - a pretty gruesome topic! Throw in some despicable brothel owners, a fanatic religious element, and many carousing cowboys, and the whole setting is far from uplifting. I'd like to see the Amlingmeyer brothers get back to some on-the-range activities, should Steve Hockensmith continue this series. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Susan | 1/13/2014

    " Now that Big Red has started selling stories about his brother, Old Red, and his detective prowess, the two have the leisure to return to Texas, where--in 1888--Old Red lost the love of his life to a murderer. Old Red expects to find some of his old cowboy friends available to help him, but finds that everyone, even the new marshal, shuns them. Even worse, they almost end up the guests of honor at not one but two lynchings. Someone doesn't want Old Red to find out what happened to Gertie, and as he learns how much he didn't know about the friends and about Gertie, he loses a lot of his famed logical composure. But will he and Big Red lose even more? "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 by Esther | 1/4/2014

    " Ughhh. Why? Why did I even bother? I don't like to go all negative on a writer trying to earn a living, but in truth I thought this was a dismal failure both as a Western and a mystery. If you're going to use the cache of Sherlock Holmes to sell your book, you'd better live up to the challenge - and very very few writers have. I have to wonder if the first on the series (wow, there's a series of these *registers blank amazement*) was any better - yes, I did skip the first couple books, I'm that Schmuck, remember me? I might have (okay, probably not) finished this book out if the author hadn't insulted me (on top of disappointing and irritating me) by stating the obvious over and over again. I detest being written down to like a child - even though I'm having a tantrum like one at the moment. Just an opinion. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Sharon | 12/25/2013

    " The language is pretty bad. But story is good. "

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