I have just finished reading another “Sherlock Holmes comes to Minnesota” book for our local library book group. In this story Holmes is called to Minnesota in 1899 to help investigate the mystery of the Kensington Runestone. For those who have not heard of it, this a real unsolved mystery from Western Minnesota. In 1898 a Swedish American farmer claimed to have discovered a stone tablet tangled in the roots of a tree. On the tablet were rune carvings which tell of a Viking exploration party exploring the area in 1362. If true, this would mean that Viking explorers ventured far further into North America than ever previously thought. Experts on both sides still debate whether the tablet is a hoax or real.
In this book the author takes some liberties with the story of the discovery of the Runestone, turning it into a murder mystery. Larry Millett does a fairly good job of creating a somewhat traditional Sherlock Holmes mystery story in the style of Arthur Conan Doyle, although in our book group discussion we noted how in this case Holmes was surrounded by several other extremely bright and competent individuals who were able to match wits with the great Holmes, perhaps more than usually occurred in traditional Holmes novels. The author also seems to delight in describing the flavors of rural Western Minnesota including the landscape, the cold and the taciturn Swedish demeanor of its residents. I enjoyed the descriptions on other-worldy flat landscape of the Red River valley, and the factoids about the heavy wall construction of grain bins designed to support the outward pressure of the grain which flows like a liquid. This was a fun book which should appeal to Sherlock Holmes fans and Western Minnesota natives alike.