Thursday, September 5, 2019

Amlingmeyers: "The Double-A Western Detective Agency"

Amlingmeyers: The Double-A Western Detective Agency by Steve Hockensmith, 2018, 9781790516162.

A glorious return of the Amlingmeyer brothers. My only problem with this novel: I love the narrations of all the previous novels and short stories. I did not realize how important the voice of William Dufris is to the audio versions.

Well, the absence of Dufris did not matter much because I really enjoy Hockensmith's stories. I just read slowly and imagined Dufris reading Big Red's narration.

A recap: Old Red and Big Red Amlingmeyer are brothers from Kansas. Old Red left home to cowpunch and when the rest of the family died in a flood his younger brother Big Red rode out West to join him. Old Red is a very taciturn fellow and illiterate. Big Red is big and tall and very loquacious. Big Red started reading aloud to Old Red at nights and Dr. John Watson's stories about his work with Sherlock Holmes were an immediate favorite to both. Ever since then Old Red has been a faithful acolyte-at-a-distance of Holmes and the Holmesian method.

After a few adventures and novels the brothers have teamed with Diana Crowe and her father, The Colonel, who used to work as railroad police. The brothers and Diana used to be at odds but are not colleagues and sorta friends. The new detective agency - seen in the title - is headquartered in Ogden. Unfortunately they don't have any paying clients. As the firm's chief investor the Colonel is therefore in charge, so he sends Old and Big and Diana off for a paying job to catch rustlers in Colorado (or some state)

Anyhoo. Hockensmith always pairs his plots and continuing characters with Western history. Same as James Benn (whose new book came out this past Tuesday) puts his main guy in the midst of World War Two mayhem. The Reds this time are walking into a town divided by racism and a range war. The town is literally divided down main street with Anglo on one side and Hispanic on the other. The Reds were hired by an Anglo rancher but before they can make contact they end up backing a local Hispanic store keeper against a gang of Anglo ruffians. Oops, those ruffians were co-workers-to-be.

Well, they can scratch that job but Old Red does not much care since he refuses to work for bullies.They end up meeting the town Marshall and then Hockensmith finagles the Reds to meet the local Hispanic Bigwig Rancher (HBR). When the Marshall is murdered on the HBR's land her son is accused of murder. The Reds sell their services and get to work.

Sticking some characters into a divided town and having them mostly try to play the middle is not a novel novel plot. I didn't care. Because it is a fun way to tell a story. HBR and family don't much like the Reds and the son accused of murder would just as shoot the Reds than let them prove his innocence.

Diana and Old Red continue to bicker and argue and Hockensmith leaves Big Red bullheaded over the romantic attraction between Old and Diana. Big Red still can't stop talking either. He gets on Old Red's nerves all the time and started getting on my nerves. There are fisticuffs. Dead bodies. Scoundrel bad guys. Frustrating characters (both Reds). And horses.

I've really enjoyed this series.

1. This is a print on demand paperback with a July, 2019 date printed in back.
2. I recall Hockensmith being dropped by his publisher. What a horrid decision that was. I quickly checked his website and did not see mention of that. This may be self-pubbed.

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