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The Crack in the Lens: A Holmes on the Range Mystery (Holmes on the Range Mysteries) Hardcover – July 21, 2009


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Product Details

  • Series: Holmes on the Range Mysteries (Book 4)
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; First Edition edition (July 21, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312379420
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312379421
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #538,324 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Set in 1893, a few weeks after the events of 2008's The Black Dove, Hockensmith's excellent fourth mystery to feature Otto Big Red Amlingmeyer and his older brother, Gustav (aka Old Red), takes them to San Marcos, Tex. 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. Author tour. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"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." --The New York Times

"Hockensmith will have a steady readership as long as the Amlingmeyers are on the case." - Booklist (starred review) on HOLMES ON THE RANGE."

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
5 star
48%
4 star
38%
3 star
14%
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See all 21 customer reviews
Steve Hockensmith continues an excellent series.
Ned Fleming
The stories are always developed well and locations are good with enough details to keep you involved.
aMorgaszon
The shift adds visceral impact, but it makes the book less fresh and original than its predecessors.
Jonathan A. Turner

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on July 25, 2009
Format: Hardcover
In 1893, a few weeks have passed since the Amlingmeyer "Reds", Otto "Big Red" and his older brother Gustav "Old Red", dropped into egg drop soup in San Francisco (see BLACK DOVE). Old Red tells Big Red about the love of his life being murdered in an unsolved crime five years ago. Big Red insisting they are Sherlock Holmes level experts ever since they worked the Southern Pacific a few months ago (see ON THE WRONG TRACK) suggests they go to San Marcos, Texas to solve the case of who murdered Gertrude Eichelberger.

The Reds arrive in San Marcos and begin their investigation with the local brothels as Gertrude was a hooker. Their inquiries upset the madams, pimps, and law enforcement types, but they refuse to back down. The brothers soon realize that Gertrude's murderer is a Texas Jack the Ripper having killed several hookers. Although Old Red has the need for closure by catching his beloved's killer, Big Red has his back every step of the way.

As always with the Reds, fans receive an amusing late nineteenth century whodunit starring heroes who poorly employ the techniques of Sherlock Holmes to their investigation. Fans will enjoy their latest escapades as everything is personal this time (not to say being shot at is not personal). With a great story line THE CRACK IN THE LENS is a super entry in a terrific western mystery saga that in its off beat way pays homage to the great detective.

Harriet Klausner
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan A. Turner VINE VOICE on July 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Each of Steve Hockensmith's four _Holmes on the Range_ books does something different. _The Crack in the Lens_ is more realistic, grittier, and much darker than any of the previous volumes. Even Big Red's trademark smartass narration gets a tad subdued in spots.

This isn't a a drawing-room mystery; it's a descent into dark places. There's a hint of Carr's _The Alienist_ here, maybe even a little _The Silence of the Lambs_. The shift adds visceral impact, but it makes the book less fresh and original than its predecessors. I must admit that I personally have had my fill of this plot; it veers toward a cliche, although setting it in the Old West is at least a shock.

Nonetheless, this is a rather ambitious book. Starting with the title, _The Crack in the Lens_ sets up a conflict between intellect and emotion, reason and faith. It doesn't entirely resolve the conflict, however. For instance, a couple of the characters make some pronouncements that really demand to be either affirmed or refuted. (They're not sympathetic characters, although--give Hockensmith credit for this--one of them turns up on the side of the good guys at a crucial point.) Even the climax is a bit ambiguous in that regard: it's as much a flash of intuition as it is logical deduction. To put it another way, this book shifts noticeably towards the real world, where things are lot messier than in the classical mystery.

It helps that, for the first time, the Amlingmeyer boys have a personal stake in the outcome. No longer are they agents of an abstract justice, or simply feeling the bite of ambition. This added dimension allows Hockensmith to sharpen up his philosophical point and display some deeper characterization.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ned Fleming on July 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Steve Hockensmith continues an excellent series. I hope there are more.

This is a tale of long-lost love -- and the attempt to redeem it from its rather squalid beginnings. Here we have the Amlingmeyers returning to San Marcos, TX, where, it was revealed in the previous book in the series, Gustav "Old Red" Amlingmeyer met and fell in love with a "soiled dove," who died mysteriously, which ultimately sent "Old Red" and his brother "Big Red" on the precursor events to this book.

Fast, witty, intriguing, and a hoot to boot. This book very much concludes the first four in the series. I would hope to see another four.

Highly recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By ZenReader on October 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an enjoyable tale but not near as good as the first 3. It does not have the complexity, humor, nor action of the first three. Having read the first three books the main characters are much much thinner in this book. I found the bad guy sort of telegraphed to the reader versuses the slow accumlation of clues and rationale of the central characters--it was more Sherlockhomes-like in the previous three. I gave it three stars for a quick read and okay story. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who had not read the first 3 books and enjoyed them --since this is certainly the weakest link in the series.
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Now that Otto "Big Red" Amlingmeyer has been published, he and his brother Gustav "Old Red" don't need to find a new job right away. As a result, Gus decides it is time to head back to San Marcos, Texas, and resolve some unfinished business.

Five years earlier, Old Red was in love with a lady of the night. Before they could save up enough money to buy her freedom and get married, she was brutally murdered. Now that he has some skill as a detective, it is time to go back and make sure the killer faces justice. Not that it will be easy. No one seems to want to help them. Even old friends are turning their backs on him. Can Old Red solve a murder where the trail has grown cold?

While these books have always been darker than my usual fair, this is the darkest one to date. One scene in particular was very gruesome. Even Big Red's funny asides in the narration are more subdued over most of the book.

But I still couldn't put the book down. The plot kept moving forward at a steady pace. And while we weren't always getting clues, we were constantly hitting obstacles. Our heroes are up against some pretty impressive odds, which added greatly to the tension.

I also liked the way that Old Red was fleshed out. For the first time in the series, I felt we got to see true weakness. I feel like I know him much better as a result. Watching Big Red react to the changes in his brother allowed us to get to know him a little better as well. While there were many characters I didn't like there were some sympathetic characters here I would love to see again.

With how this book ends, I can't wait to see how things are developed in future books.
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More About the Author

As you might have guessed by now, I am a writer. Most authors are (with the possible exception of Snooki). As a writer, it is my duty to spend large portions of my day sitting in front of a computer in ketchup-stained sweatpants while swilling enough coffee each hour to drown a chihuahua. This I cheerfully do. Occasionally, I even write something. Via this time-tested method of sitting, drinking coffee and writing, I have managed to produce several novels. Some people think they're pretty good. I will now fill the rest of my allotted space with quotes from positive reviews. Sorry. To make it more fun for everyone, I've slipped one fake review in with the real ones. See if you can spot it!

"Grade: A-...hilarious...delightfully offbeat...." --Entertainment Weekly on Holmes on the Range

"Other books and TV series have featured genre-melding cowboys armed with ratiocination as well as revolvers, but Hockensmith's take is quite special. There's his combination of intriguing mystery, breathless action, colorful characters and enough laugh-out-loud moments for the book to fit in the humorous crime category." --The Los Angeles Times on The Black Dove

"Hockensmith takes a concept that could have been terrible -- the backstory of the Bennet girls learning to fight the undead, setting the stage for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies -- and turns it into a gory and gross, wonderful and clever tale...a true delight, really." --Romantic Times on Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls

"Hulk hate silly things puny humans call 'books.' Hulk smash The Da Vinci Code! Hulk smash puny Harry Potter! But Hockensmith books pretty good. Hulk no smash. Hulk want more sequels." --The Incredible Hulk on The Crack in the Lens

To learn more about me, go to http://www.stevehockensmith.com. To learn more about the Incredible Hulk and his taste in literature, go to http://www.marvel.com.