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Holmes on the Range

(Holmes On the Range #1)

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  1,756 ratings  ·  313 reviews
1893 is a tough year in Montana, and any job is a good job. When brothers Big Red and Old Red Amlingmeyer sign on as ranch hands at a secretive ranch, they're not expecting much more than hard work, bad pay, and a few free moments to enjoy their favorite pastime: reading stories about Sherlock Holmes.

When another hand turns up dead, Old Red sees the perfect opportunity to
Paperback, 294 pages
Published January 1st 2007 by St. Martins Press-3PL (first published January 1st 2006)
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3.80  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,756 ratings  ·  313 reviews

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Tim Hicks
May 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: People who are OK with a western mystery and dry humour
Wal, I reckon I just done had me a real fine ole read there.

You might not like this if you don't care for characters who say "Yup," but if yer one a them, what in tarnation were ya readin' this here book fer?

This is my second Red/Red novel, and better than the first (which was the one at the Chicago Exposition, and quite good).

The two Reds are a good pair, and the author has done a good job of making them equivalent to Holmes and Watson without being just a knock-off. Their back story is beli
Dec 02, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read one of Hockensmith's short stories in Ellery Queen. It was an old west mystery solved by an uneducated but highly intelligent Sherlock Holmes afficionado. When I heard he was expanding the conceit into a novel, I wanted to check it out, although I wasn't sure how well the idea would hold up when stretched to book length. Turns out it makes a damn entertaining yarn.

Holmes on the Range follows the two surviving Amlingmyer brothers as they investigate the strange goings-on at the Bar VR ran
Mar 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who's not afraid to get a little dirty while rustling up little doggies.
I first came across this book at the famed bookstore Bookpeople in Austin, TX. I came close to buying it there- but 1) I was on vacation, and running short on money. 2) I was in Austin, TX- where money is better spent on beer and music and food. 3) I worked (and still work) in a used bookstore back at home, so I could buy the book for there.

Flash Forward one year. I'd forgotten about the book- well, I'd forgotten the title and author and what the book looked like- so I became one of those people
Apr 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is #1 in the ‘Holmes on the Range’ historical mysteries series, set in 1890’s Montana. Features “Big Red” Otto Amlingmeyer and his brother “Old Red” Gustav, who are wandering cowboys who take temporary jobs offered by different ranches, and in this book they’re hired by Uly MacPherson, manager of the Castlemere Ranche, commonly known as the Bar VR. It’s not an assignment they’d normally take, as the MacPherson brothers and the Bar VR don’t exactly have a great reputation, but Old Red takes ...more
Pamela Aidan
May 11, 2012 rated it liked it
My husband and I listened to the audio version of Holmes on the Range during a trip to--of all places--Billings, Montana from our home in Idaho to visit his brothers & their families. He was more than a bit skeptical of Hockensmith's ability to pull off a combination of Sherlock Holmes and an authentic Montana cowboy voice. You see, his father had been raised on a cattle ranch at the start of the 20th century and cowboyed in his youth in southeastern Montana, a place that hadn't changed much ...more
Jun 10, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Holmes on the Range is a mystery starring two brothers working as ranch hands in 1893 Montana. Where is the hook for a reader? Gustav Amlingmeyer, the eldest of the two siblings, has been inspired by the adventures of Sherlock Holmes as read by his brother, Otto, out of Harper's Weekly. Gustav (Old Red) starts to practice his "deducifyin'" techniques when he and his brother sign on as cowhands at a ranch. Gustav knows that something is "afoot" when one of the ranch-hands is found dead in a locke ...more
Linda M
Mar 02, 2010 rated it did not like it
My mother-in-law loved this book and I thought I would take a trip into a fun, fluffy mystery.

Well, shucks. This books is awful. As in, "thars' a rattler in my cornpone and he ain't so gay" awful.

Complete drivel and terrible writing, in my opinion. Here's an excerpt:

"Home sweet home," he signed as he hauled himself up.
"God damn," Anytime spat. "They may as well have us bunkin' in a hole in the ground."
"Ain't been nothin' but snakes in here in years," Pinky added.
"Maybe that's a good thing, I re
Jun 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
If the cowboy vernacular doesn't irritate you, this is a fun little book. I listened to the audio version and was thoroughly entertained. I had to check and see whether the author was from Montana (he's not) because some of the dialogue was so familiar to me I thought surely he'd listened in on some real Montana cowboys.
Susan Ferguson
Mar 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Quite interesting. A cowboy who doesn't know how to read or write, who works with his younger brother, who did receive schooling and clerked for awhile before the rest of their family was washed away in a flood, is taken with the Sherlock Holmes stories that his brother reads him from magazines. Old Red, so called because he's the older brother, and Big Red, who is a tall guy, both have red hair and work for various outfits. Big Red sticks to Old Red because that's all the family he has. Old Red ...more
Jul 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite, series
Holmes on the Range is the story of the Amlingmeyer brothers, Gustav and Otto. They are ranch hands in 1890s Montana. Gustav, the older, known as "Old Red" is illiterate. Otto, known as "Big Red" reads Sherlock Holmes tales to Gustav. When a ranch hand is murdered. Old Red fancys himself a Sherlock Holmes and gets to "deducifying". The book is narrated by Otto and I laughed out loud while enjoying this book. This is the funniest book I have read in a long time. It's a mystery/historical fiction/ ...more
Apr 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you are a fan of the old west and of Sherlock then this is your book. Such a wonderful peak into history and at the same time a cowboy western, and murder mystery all rolled into one. Great quick read!!
Sep 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
I did not know what to expect from this highly recommended series, but I jumped in with both feet and was impressed. This is a fun combination of an uneducated but wise cowboy, teamed up with his educated but unwise younger brother.

They are isolated on a ranch in Montana and things are very strange from the start. All of their guns are confiscated and they are given inadequate food and subpar lodgings.

Suddenly a traveling party of British folks arrive and they understand why their first tasks at
Paul Weiss
Dec 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, western
A Wild West Sherlock Holmes works for me!

Unlike so many others of this very specialized but rather crowded niche genre - the parody of Sherlock Holmes - Hockensmith's unique entry, Holmes on the Range amuses, entertains and succeeds wonderfully.

Dateline 1893, Big Sky country in frontier Montana. Two out of work cowpokes, Otto and Gustav Amlingmeyer (known to their friends as Big Red and Old Red) amuse themselves by reading and re-reading Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes mysteries in much thumbed c
Oct 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Man alive was this a great book! Funny, tight prose, fast paced, a great plot, great characters, a great and fresh take on the relationship between the brothers, excellent research on the Old West. Just the total package.

About a week ago, my friend Woody suggested I set reading challenges for myself, to read so many books per year. I was against the idea because I read for pleasure. And this book was a pleasure. I could have plowed on through it, but I read it very leisurely. Enjoying it all th
Joe Slavinsky
Jan 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
I read "World's Greatest Sleuth", which is the 5th in this series, first, and I was so impressed, that I went back to this first book in the series. Hockensmith has apparently been writing short stories, many including the Amlingmeyer brothers, prior to this book, which is his first novel. The concept of this series is so different, and refreshing, that it leaves one wondering why no one had thought of it sooner. Two cowboys, in the late 19th century, being so enamored with the "true" stories of ...more
Jack Heath
Mar 16, 2019 marked it as to-read
Shelves: category-mystery
Synopsis: 1893 is tough in Montana. Big Red and Old Red sign on as ranch hands; another hand turns up dead. They try Sherlockian deducifyin!
Oct 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book. The combination of a Montana cowboy using Sherlock Holmes's methods to solve a mystery was an intriguing one, and I think Hockensmith pulls it off well. The writing is interesting and funny at times, and I think the story kept me reading. I really enjoyed Big Red and Old Red, and I thought Big Red made a great narrator who could introduce the reader to the ways of the old west while simultaneously prying at Old Red and getting him to explain his methods of deduction. Ov ...more
Jul 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book up at the library for a challenge last month and never got to it. I wasn't even sure I would like it since I got it based on the cover (Pictionary challenge and this had a horse on it). I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn't like the books I normally read but it wasn't bad. Basically, one of the 2 brothers was obsessed with Sherlock Holmes and he decided to take a crack at solving mysteries. They got jobs working on a ranch and end up smack dab in the middle of a mystery (perfe ...more
Sep 30, 2011 rated it did not like it
This one star is unfortunate. I think this would be a great story, but I only got through chapter 2. I'm sure some cowboys do talk this way, but I don't appreciate such rough language in my books, so I had to put it down. It really did seem like a good plot - 2 cowboys who read a Sherlock Holmes story and then set out to solve a mystery or two, Holmes-style.
May 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
These surviving brothers who are fans of the Sherlock Holmes detective stories make a fascinating pair of protagonists with the elder being illiterate but the better analytic observer. Gustav “Old Red” Amlingmeyer becomes the itinerant proto-investigator leading his journal keeping proto-author brother, Otto “Big Red”, on a search for real paying cases for him to exercise his detective skills.
Jun 04, 2008 rated it liked it
Fun mystery novel set on a ranch in the Old West. Old Red is a Sherlock Holmes fanatic/disciple. Big Red is his little brother, and the narrator. Both are ranch hands investigating a murder. Fun read.
Apr 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
A fun mystery series set in the late nineteenth-century U.S. West. The audio books, read by William Dufris, are an acquired taste as I feel the reading "dumbs down" the main character, but the series is fun.
Feb 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
Cowboys obsessed with Sherlock Holmes? Written by a dude from Alameda? Slam dunk.
It's a nice book, a 3.5 stars read, and it has a humorous take on Sherlock Holmes, fans of the great detective may enjoy it as much as I do.
Judy Hall
Old Red and Big Red are the last of the Amlingmeyer line after a run of bad luck. Now they scratch out their living as cow hands in Montana in 1890's. Old Red never had a chance at book learning. He's always assumed that he would never be more than he appeared. And then someone read him "The Red Headed Leagee" and his life was changed. After that he became devoted to study the work of Sherlock Holmes and using his brain to be aware of the world around him.

When an opportunity to work on a secreti
Corey Zander
May 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is the first book I have felt inspired to review.
Keeping in mind I am not an intellectual and see the world from the view of synchronistic events which keep me stumbling toward a destiny which at the tender age of 47 is still not clear to me.

I loved this book!! It has changed me in ways I do not yet comprehend. The synchronistic events which led me to this book and the meaning it has for this journey I am on leave me at a loss for words.
With "The Hero's Journey" by Joseph Campbell and othe
May 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
I listened to this audiobook. This is a delightful tale. This is a fun mystery set in the wild west of Montana in the 1890's. Old Red and Big Red Amlingmeyer are brothers. Old Red (Gustav) is the big brother, and he is a devoted fan of Sherlock Holmes. Big Red (Otto) is his younger brother, and he makes a great Watson. They are ranch hands hired at a ranch with many secrets. When one the ranch workers is found shot dead in a locked outhouse, Old Red is chomping at the bit to put on his Holmes pe ...more
Jan 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, mystery
I've been wanting to read a western ever since I read Molly Tanzer's steampunk western Vermilion but just couldn't find it in myself to sit down with Louis L'amour or Larry McMurtry (they write westerns don't they?) I caught wind of the fact that my friend Dave was reading one of the later books in this series, and since I also like a good mystery, the idea of a mystery-western hybrid was very appealing to me. (This was before I learned that Tanzer had a new book, which may or may not be a weste ...more
Bill Johnson
Nov 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Works as both a western and as an homage to Sherlock Holmes. I'm sure the portrayal of life for Cowboys and their work as ranch hands, was accurate. Life herding cattle, could be downright brutal and sometimes, deadly. Big Red does most of the talking, while Old Red does the thinking. There is also a sprinkling of humor scattered throughout, and who did what to whom, and why, had me guessing right to the end. I really enjoyed this book as well as the few short stories featuring Big Red and Old ...more
Beth G.
When I saw "Western" as one of the Read Harder 2018 tasks, I wasn't sure what I was going to read. And then I found this. It's a fun read, and Otto and Gustav are fantastic.

"Some folks get religion. Gustav got Sherlock Holmes." That line just tickles me. As does the backstory that weaves Holmes himself into things, if only from a distance.

There's quite a bit of period-typical racism (some of it even related to the plot), so be aware if that's an issue.
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Goodreads Librari...: add cover to audiobook 5 20 May 27, 2018 01:52PM  
Classic Readers : Holmes on the Range 1 6 Apr 22, 2014 05:07PM  

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Steve Hockensmith is the author of the New York Times bestseller Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls and several other novels, including the Edgar Award finalist Holmes on the Range. He lives in Alameda, California.

Other books in the series

Holmes On the Range (7 books)
  • On the Wrong Track (Holmes on the Range, #2)
  • The Black Dove (Holmes on the Range, #3)
  • The Crack in the Lens (Holmes on the Range, #4)
  • World's Greatest Sleuth! (Holmes on the Range, #5)
  • The Double-A Western Detective Agency (Holmes on the Range, #6)
  • Dear Mr. Holmes: Seven Holmes on the Range Mysteries