The Crack in the Lens: A Holmes on the Range Mystery
by Steve Hockensmith
Review by Gayle Surrette
Minotaur Books Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780312672171
Date: 18 January 2011 List Price $14.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Gustav "Old Red" Amlingmeyer has decided that he and his brother, Otto "Big Red", should return to Texas – San Marcos to be exact. When Otto finally gets Gustav to talk, he learns that Gustav intends to use his detective skills to find out who killed Gertie, the woman he loved. It's been five years but he expects he can still find the killer. However, things in San Marcos have changed in the last five years, and Gustav finds himself met with hostility from all quarters – even from those he thought were friends.
Over the last three books, we've seen Gustav hone his skills as a detective while Otto writes of their adventures. Now Otto is a published author and Gustav feels he now has the experience and skill to solve the murder of the love of his life, Gertie. He feels responsible and secretly believes that if he hadn't thought they needed more money before they could marry then she'd have been out of the life she'd been living and maybe still alive.
What Gustav didn't count on was that his anger and desire for justice would cause him to forget to follow the rules of detecting that had been his touchstone in all his previous cases. Otto on the other hand, never in his wildest dream expected Gustav to defer to him or to seriously ask his advice. Kept off balance throughout by the changes that are occurring between the brothers, changes in San Marcos from the town that Gustav remembered, the hostility of the townsfolk, and the lack of even civility from those that Gustav considered friends, the brothers keep trying to find a way to get their usual Holmesian method into play.
But the brothers continue to search for clues no matter what the cost to themselves. They are good men in a time of flux – Otto moving forward while Gustav holds onto his image of himself as a cowboy. This case is going to test them in ways they can't even imagine as each clue leads them on to learning things they'd be happier to never have known.
The conclusion is shocking, to say the least, and the resolution of their case will mark them in ways that only another story of the Amlingmeyer brothers can alleviate our concern. Seriously, while the conclusion is more than satisfying – you'll be on the edge of your seat until the next episode is in print.
While you can read this book as a stand-alone, you'll want to go back and catch up on their past adventures.