Listened: On the Wrong Track by Steve Hockensmith, 2007 (print), OverDrive download.
Book two and another fun entry into the adventures of Big Red and Old Red Amlingmeyer.
1893 and Big and Old have been traveling west after adventures of book one. They've been cow punching for money while trying to catch work as detectives. Old has been deeply influenced by Sherlock Holmes and the Holmes method of 'deducifying'. The Pinkertons won't hire them but at a Utah Pink office they meet famous range detective, Old Guy (I forgot his name) who sends them to see a guy at Southern Pacific Railroad.
Old and Red are hired on as railroad cops even though there Kansas farming roots left a deep hatred for railroads. Old and Red are given badges and sent to San Francisco on the express train. Told to stay undercover they are to act if there is trouble from the Give'em Hell Boys who have been robbing SP trains.
Old Red suffers acute motion sickness and while Old is puking off the back of the train both Reds see a bouncing human head. The baggage car handler has been murdered. Old and Big immediately clash with a blowhard and bossy conductor. Old and Red meet the teenage news 'butch' who loves to talk. Old and Red meet passenger named Diane. Big swoons for Diane.
More things happen. Old tries to 'deducify' the strange clues in the baggage car. The train is robbed by the Give'Em Hell Boys. Old continues 'deducifying'. Big Red is thick when it comes to clues and deduction. Big Red knows this. Big Red talks a lot. Old and Red suffer a surprise snake attack. More things happen. Big and Red solve the crimes. The express train crashes. Big and Old take the blame from SP and get $5 each for three days wages.
1. I just read a review about the audio version and the reviewer was initially annoyed by the big voice of William Dufris. Heck, Dufris performs these books. Dufris gives plenty of character and voice to the boisterous, friendly, talkative, and sometimes naive Big Red.
2. More history: Train travel. Pullman cars and staff. Cultural mores and behavior. "Long riders". Farmers versus train companies. Chicago Exposition (a trip there comes up in one of the following novels.
3. The crime has an inside guy and I figured him out early but I really enjoyed the path to his reveal.
4. Diane reappears in book three but I do not know if she is in the others.
5. Theme of Big and Old Red fighting against established people who do not believe they are capable. Big and Old are assumed to be stupid cow punchers. The established authorities are usually hiding something.
6. Theme of young and enthusiastic sidekick. Book one had the Englishman pining to be a six-gun shooting cowboy. Book two has the news butch and his love for dime novel westerns and crime stories. Book three has the Chinese translator who escorts Big and Old around Chinatown.
7. I presume the Give'Em Hell Boys are a riff off Cassidy and Sundance's Hole in the Wall Gang.
8. Reminder, Sherlock Holmes is real person in these stories.