Otto and Gustav have hung up their saddles to take an undercover job on the railroad in ON THE WRONG TRACK. Their job is to protect the train from a band of outlaws that have been targeting the Pacific Express, but on their trek to San Francisco, there's more to worry about than outlaws.
ON THE WRONG TRACK is the second book in Steve Hockensmith's Holmes on the Range mystery series. The deliciously colorful characters, smart who-dunnit plots and priceless dialogue makes this a series I enjoy coming back to.
Hockensmith does a commendable job weaving Sherlock Holmes into the tales both literally and metaphorically. The plots are also created in the style of Holmes, presenting all the clues to the reader in a fair mystery. The reader has as much of a chance at solving the crime as Hockensmith's protagonists.
And speaking of protagonists, The Amlingmeyer Brothers are not only engaging characters, but the relationship between the two is worth the price of admission. I think having two sisters makes me more acutely aware of the small nuances that work to make the Amlingmeyer relationship so realistic. The differences in personalities combined with a familiar allegiance makes for seemingly contradictory behavior on the part of the brothers. But anyone with a sibling will recognize the authenticity.
"Our tickets were waiting for us under 'Dissimulo' like Colonel Crowe said, though the clerk behind the counter gave me the evil eye when I had trouble pronouncing what was supposedly my own last name.
'Dissimulo - what kinda handle is that anyway?' I asked Gustav as we went looking for a porter to take our things.
'Sounds I-talian,' my brother muttered.
'I guess I oughta start callin' you Giuseppe then. You can call me Leonardo.'
'How 'bout I just call you Chucklehead?' Old read said wearily, as if making digs at me was an obligation he could barely muster the strength to meet. 'If we're gonna take on another name, it may as well be something that fits us.'
That actually seemed sensible to me - which is why, soon afterward, I checked in our saddles and war bags under the name Gustav Holmes."
The supporting and minor characters of ON THE WRONG TRACK are an array of personality and splendor. All together locked in a train throughout the course of the novel makes for great conflict, tension and numerous red herrings.
I listened to ON THE WRONG TRACK on audio from Tantor Audio, narrated by William Dufris. I have mixed feelings on this audiobook. I think it is well recorded and Dufris does a good job of bringing out Hockensmith's humor. I also think Dufris does an amazing job voicing all the supporting characters. However, it's Gustav and Otto that I have difficulties with. My interpretation of their characters is significantly different than the characters Dufris brings to life with his narration. It isn't simply what they sound like but their mannerisms, their dialects and their behaviors. If a reader/listener listens to the series from the start, their reaction to the audios may be quite different from mine. I have tainted my views on these characters by having read them in print first, I believe.
ON THE WRONG TRACK is available in trade paper (ISBN: 978-0-312-37288-0) from Minotaur and on audiobook from Tantor Audio (ISBN: 978-1-400-15355-8).