Hockensmith, Steve 1968-
Hockensmith, Steve 1968-
Born August 17, 1968, in Louisville, KY; married; children: a daughter and a son.
Writer, novelist, journalist, and magazine editor. Has participated in communications work for nonprofit organizations, including the YMCA of the USA and the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
Holmes on the Range, St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2006.
On the Wrong Track, St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2007.
The Black Dove: A Holmes on the Range Mystery, St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2008.
Contributor to periodicals, including Hollywood Reporter, Chicago Tribune, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Newsday, Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, and Total Movie. Editor for magazines, including X-Files Official Magazine (senior editor) and Cinescape. Author of monthly column, "Reel Crime," Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. Contributor of short stories and works of fiction to periodicals, including Analog. Contributor to anthologies, including The Best American Mystery Stories 2001.
Steve Hockensmith is a journalist who has written for a number of newspapers and magazines across the United States. The majority of his writing is in fiction, a genre that parallels his editorial experience with mystery magazines, including Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine and Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. Hockensmith's debut novel, Holmes on the Range, is, as the title suggests, set in the American West and follows a pair of brothers who go about solving a murder mystery in the style of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's legendary character, Sherlock Holmes. Holmes on the Range features "Big Red" and "Old Red" Amlingmeyer, two characters Hockensmith created in a story for Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine in 2003. The brothers, one with a formal education and the other with a knack for details, investigate two strange deaths while on the job at the Bar-VR ranch.
Overall, reviewers enjoyed Holmes on the Range. A contributor to Kirkus Reviews called it a "winning twist on a proven franchise," while a Publishers Weekly reviewer noted that "skillful plotting and characterization augur well for a sequel." Despite giving the story high marks, Gilbert Cruz and Thom Geier, writing in Entertainment Weekly, called the plot "absurdish." However, several critics were impressed by the story's likability across genres. Ken St. Andre summed this up in his review for Library Journal by pointing out that, "from the first page to the last," the book will have "both mystery fans and [aficionados] of Westerns grinning."
The Holmes-inspired Amlingmeyer brothers return for their second adventure in On the Wrong Track. Old Red (Gustav) and his younger brother Big Red (Otto) Amlingmeyer have taken up jobs as railroad security men. Although they have been rejected by Pinkerton, lawman Burl Lockhart gives them the chance to go to work on the Pacific Express, a train that has just rumbled into town. Thinking they will get their chance to become the cowboy detectives they always wanted to be, Big Red and Old Red are disappointed when they are assigned to protect the train from the predations of a violent gang of outlaws. They share the train with a number of quirky characters, including the Asian Dr. Chan, who suffers from the racial slurs of an unpleasant passenger. Also on board is the comely Diana Caveo, who draws Big Red's attention. The action begins when surly baggage handler Joe Pezullo literally loses his head, and his decapitated body is discovered on the train. Old Red sees his chance to apply the detective skills he hopes to become famous for, and soon he has discovered unusual cargo in the baggage car, encountered the self-styled king of the hobos, set out to rescue Burl and Dr. Chan from a group of rowdy cowhands, and encountered even more murder.
Styled as a "lively Holmes takeoff, as an inventive melding of mystery and western genres, and as a new source of damn good reading, this series demands attention," remarked Booklist reviewer Wes Lukowsky. A Kirkus Reviews critic found "no sophomore slump in Big Red and Old Red's second case: crackling pace, lots of humor and appealing Wild West flavor." Readers "who liked the first book will get some chuckles out of this tale of railroad robbery," commented Ken St. Andre, again writing in Library Journal. A California Bookwatch contributor mused that readers will enjoy the novel's "outstanding blend of vivid plot, high drama, and strong characterization."
The Black Dove: A Holmes on the Range Mystery is the next book in Hockensmith's series. Set in 1893, the story finds Old Red and Big Red down on their luck in San Francisco and attempting to land themselves jobs as detectives to no avail. A series of mishaps derails their efforts, starting with their friend Dr. Chan shooting at them and succeeding in hitting Big Red's new hat. When a mysterious woman later tells them Chan is in trouble, they set out to help him and, with any luck, learn more about why he was shooting at them. However, by the time they find Chan, he is dead. Big Red and Old Red know better than to accept the police's conclusion that Chan's death was a suicide, and they set out to determine what happened to their friend. The only clue they have to go on is to find the mysterious Black Dove. A contributor for Kirkus Reviews found the book "buoyant and consistently entertaining," going on to add that "cheeky chapter titles add additional zip." Harriet Klausner, in a review for the BizCar Web site, remarked that "the humorous story line is fast-paced especially when the heroes begin to follow clues that have more twists than Lombard St."
Hockensmith told CA: "I was one of those geeky kids who actually enjoyed doing book reports in grade school, especially if I could do them my own way—as a skit or a song or something else wacky. It was just always in me to be creative. But since I can't draw, act, dance, or sing, writing became my primary creative outlet by a process of elimination. Fortunately, I've found a way to make it a career, too. I consider myself very lucky."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, February 15, 2006, Wes Lukowsky, review of Holmes on the Range, p. 50; January 1, 2007, Wes Lukowsky, review of On the Wrong Track, p. 63.
California Bookwatch, May, 2007, review of On the Wrong Track.
Entertainment Weekly, February 17, 2006, Gilbert Cruz and Thom Geier, review of Holmes on the Range, p. 81.
Kirkus Reviews, December 1, 2005, review of Holmes on the Range, p. 1257; November 15, 2006, review of On the Wrong Track, p. 1155; February 1, 2007, review of On the Wrong Track, p. 9; January 1, 2008, review of The Black Dove: A Holmes on the Range Mystery.
Library Journal, November 1, 2005, Ken St. Andre, review of Holmes on the Range, p. 56; November 15, 2006, Ken St. Andre, review of On the Wrong Track, p. 64.
North Bay Bohemian (Santa Rosa, CA), October 19, 2005, Matt Patatmat, "Big Hock," profile of Steve Hockensmith.
Publishers Weekly, November 7, 2005, review of Holmes on the Range, p. 55; December 18, 2006, review of On the Wrong Track, p. 46.
Best Reviews,http://www.thebestreviews.com/ (January 15, 2006), Harriet Klausner, review of Holmes on the Range.
BizCar,http://www.books.bizcar.ro/ (February 21, 2008), Harriet Klausner, review of The Black Dove.
Bookreporter.com,http://www.bookreporter.com/ (July 15, 2007), Kate Ayers, review of Holmes on the Range.
DragonCon Web site,http://www.dragoncon.org/ (July 15, 2007), biography of Steve Hockensmith.
Short of It Web log,http://theshortofit.blogspot.com/ (March 5, 2005), interview with Steve Hockensmith.
Steve Hockensmith Home Page,http://www.stevehockensmith.com (July 15, 2007).
Steven Torres Web site,http://www.steventorres.com/ (July 15, 2007), author interview.