I signed up for Goodreads.com a while ago for some reason I don't recall. I log in sometimes to rate the books I've read. The Goodreads rating system is five stars with a brief description for each star. 1 star = "didn't like it" and 5 stars = "it was amazing". I would rate this at 5 stars except I very much doubt I will call any book "amazing".
First book in the series and the second I have listened to. Narrator William Dufris narrated both this and Black Dove and does a very good job with accents, and twang, and performing the work. The only drawback, the same problem I encountered in Black, was that some characters sound like the Mr. Garrison character from South Park.
Old Red and Big Red are in Miles City, MT for the winter and have no work. They are in a saloon when a mean ranch foreman and his equally mean brother come in looking to hire hands. Old Red and Big Red are hired for the Bar-VR. The Bar-VR is rundown, secretive, owned by English investors and run by an Englishman manager.
Old Red has recently learned of Sherlock Holmes and started to emulate his methods. Both Big and Old are cowpunchers but Old Red is aspiring to be like his hero, Holmes. Old wants to work for the unsavory ranch partly because he wants to find out what all the bad reputation is about.
Things happen. Foremen are jerks and mysterious. Ranch manager killed during storm and mushed into the ground by the cattle. Old starts to ask questions. Big makes wisecracks and never stops talking. English owners show up at the ranch. Old and Red converse a bit with the maid of the part-owner who is an English Duke. Big is hot for Duke's daughter. Crony of Foremen is murdered. Old says he can solve the case before the Marshall arrives. Owners are keen on this since something secretive is going on.
Investigatin' ensues. Old is taciturn. Big is loquacious. Big cracks jokes. Old suffers Big's behavior. Big shoots one bad guy in head. Old brings everyone together into the same room for the reveal. [What is that method called? I know there is a name for it.] Shootout ensues. Bad guys are shot dead. Old is shot and wounded. Big is distraught. Old lives to give Hockensmith sequels.
1. One thing that I don't recall being made clear in Black Dove is that Sherlock Holmes is real. I thought this was played sorta straight with Big and Old not understanding that the stories are fiction. Not so. Old and Big inhabit the same fictional universe as Holmes.
2. Plenty of wisecracks. Plenty of jokes. Several cowboy fart jokes.
3. Not a cozy with the fart jokes, outhouse smell, and grotesque dead bodies. But, the attitude feels the same to me. Things are more relaxed and fun than tense. There is tension to be sure but I enjoyed the play between Old and Red more than I worried for the dangerous situations.
4. I thought Hockensmith did regular western novels but his blog's bib. does not list any.
5. Old and Big's family were on the Cottonwood River in East Kansas until the rest of the family died from smallpox and flooding.
6. A Duke's daughter and cowboys? Sounds like a romance.