Monday, September 7, 2009

Book 37: The Crack In The Lens

Otto and Gustav are back deducifyin'. . . and this time, it's personal. I have really enjoyed the Holmes on the Range series by Steve Hockensmith. Otto and Gustav (Big Red and Ole Red, respectively) have a believable brotherly dynamic. They fight slightly less than the brothers I'm raising. In this installment Gustav drags Otto back to Texas. He is ready to solve the murder of Gertie, a Soiled Dove whom he had loved and lost to a killer who has dodged justice.

The small town of San Marco has gotten religion, and the whorehouse has moved right outside of city limits. This allows Otto and Gustav to get the city and county sheriffs after them. Actually, pretty much everyone in town comes after them. There are a lot of near misses for the brothers and there is sufficient collateral damage-- confined to them what had it comin'.

I am pleased to report that I didn't peg the killer until Ole Red did. I didn't think it was the first suspect they latched on. I was certain it was going to be someone else and I was pleased to be wrong, as that character seemed harmless enough.

What is troubling, is that this book ends in such a way that I fear it may be the end of the trail for Gustav and Otto. Gustav may be permanently disabled, or worse yet, about to become a goat farmer. I think Otto has a long way to go as a character-- he's pretty much the dimmer version of Watson, and a loudmouthed blowhard to boot. I wouldn't mind him growing up a bit. Gustav seems fully formed, but he's the better deducifier of the two, so I don't see that Otto could take on work without him. I admit, I hope the boys hit the trail again.

I just read Hockensmith's blog, which led me to some other book blog where that blogger was quite dismissive of poor ole Steve. That other book blogger has a stick up the pooper, by the way, so I won't be linking. Be a good little googler and find it for yourself. I do not think mystery novels are the same thing over and over-- even though they very nearly always end with a killer being caught. I just like the movement From Chaos To Order, so very different from how my house runs. People kill for a variety of reasons in a variety of ways and they slip up and get caught in others. The language and rhythms vary for each series and some puzzles are hard to solve, some are a good ride along the words. I guess I don't feel the need to Read Important Books. Or Impress People With My SmartyPants. Actually, I'm not wearing pants most of the time when I write this blog. Freedom From the Tyranny of PANTS!

Cheer up Hockensmith, you may not be Einstein, but neither was Mother Theresa. It is possible to bring joy to people using practically no brains at all. Not that I think these books are brainless or that Hockensmith is a dimwit. There are themes in those books of loyalty, justice, the importance of family, persistence, hard work. I have come to value these things as much as intelligence. They also have humor, which I value as one of the best uses of intelligence. In my experience (such as it is) humor keeps the intelligent going, it fuels persistence when spirits lag and enthusiasm and hope wane. If not for my (often inappropriate, vulgar, and black) sense of humor I am not sure what would have become of me over the last few years.

1 comment: