Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Book Review: Black List, White Death by Steven Hockensmith (Part of the Holmes on the Range Series)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Three fun stories
Cons: None for me
The Bottom Line:
Three more mysteries
Featuring cowboy brothers
All enjoyable




Two More Novellas with the Reds

The end of 2023 was a delightful time for fans of Old Red and Big Red, the cowboy detectives created by Steve Hockensmith.  We got a new novel, a short story collection, and Black List, White Death, a novella collection.

In case you aren’t familiar with the series, Old Red and Big Red are brothers who were making their living as cowboys in the 1890’s American West.  That is until Big Red stumbled upon a Sherlock Holmes story and read it to his brother.  Old Red made Sherlock Holmes his hero, and began to use his methods to solve problems the pair encountered.  At this point in the series, they’ve partnered with some others they’ve met along the way to open the Double-A Western Detective Agency.

The stories in this book relate to cases they are handling for the agency.  Up first in Black List, the pair head to Arizona in an attempt to find a list of names that was involved in a murder years before.  However, when they arrive, they find that they have attracted unwanted attention and must find a way to get the list while staying alive.

We get a bonus short story next.  “Expense Report: El Paso” finds Big Red off on his first solo case when he is sent to Mexico to retrieve the head of a wanted bandit so they can collect the reward and get some much needed cash.  However, things go wrong when he opens the package to make sure he has what he is supposed to.

These two stories take up roughly the first third of the book.  The rest of the book is filled by White Death.  Big Red and Old Red are sent undercover to a tuberculosis sanitarium in the Colorado mountains.  The sanitarium’s board is concerned about two recent deaths of patients that appear to be tragic accidents and not by natural causes.  Could someone be behind them?

All three stories are filled with humor, especially when the brothers are interacting.  How they survive each other is a mystery at times, but I love reading these scenes.  The short story is pure comedy, and I loved it.  The others are more serious stories with real dangers, but the humor helps lighten things.

Both of the novellas feature strong mysteries.  As always, I follow Big Red’s narration and completely miss the clues that Old Red actually uses to piece things together.  Yet everything makes sense once he does.

Between the three stories, this release is long enough to be a full book.  You just get three stories for the price of one.

It’s been fun to connect with these brothers again.  While we wait for something new with them, you’ll enjoy catching the adventures contained in Black List, White Death.

Here are the rest of the Holmes on the Range books.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.

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