Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Black Dove-Steve Hockensmith

The Black Dove
Steve Hockensmith
St. Martin's, Feb 2008, $23.95
ISBN 9780312347826

In 1893 brothers Old Red and Big Red Amlingmeyer recover from their work as rail cops (see ON THE WRONG TRACK) by visiting San Francisco in order to partake of some of the city’s world renowned wickedness as well as look into a personal matter. When they worked as railroad cops, the luggage of the late Dr. Chan was tossed off the train that was their beat. Knowing their hero would investigate, the siblings emulate HOLMES ON THE RANGE; albeit this time Holmes in San Francisco to determine who killed Dr. Chan and why. Joining them is former railroad sleuth Diane Corvus, who also has a personal reason to learn the truth.

The Reds assume that hired Chinese “highbinders” killed Chan, but the clues take them everywhere in the City by the Bay not just Chinatown. With local police and Chinatown's “Napoleon of Crime” assisting them Old Red and Big Red land in whorehouses where they are a bit distracted, but with Diane and Napoleon coaxing them, their escapades lead everyone into a final confrontation in which being shanghaied appears to have a greater life expectancy.

The third Holmes on the Range historical mystery is another superb zany caper as the Red siblings land in one egg drop soup after another. The humorous story line is fast-paced especially when the heroes begin to follow clues that have more twists than Lombard St. Fans of the series will appreciate the Reds’ escapades as Gaslight San Francisco comes to life as rarely seen in a whodunit with a terrific insane ending.

Harriet Klausner