American railroad magnate James J. Hill summons Sherlock Holmes to Minnesota to save the Great Northern Railroad and Hill himself from the threats of "The Red Demon"
It is the story of how the world's most beloved private detective, Sherlock Holmes, and Watson traveled to Minnesota in 1894 to find and stop a murderous arsonist, known only as the Red Demon, who is threatening both Hill and his Great Northern Railway. Homes's pursuit of this malignant and cunning villain presents the great man "with the most remarkable case of his celebrated career."In Minnesota, Holmes comes face-to-face with all manner of frontier characters, including two-fisted railroad men, rough-and-tumble lumberjacks, a one-eyed teamster, and an unsavory town marshal. But he also encounters the proprietress of the North Woods' most opulent sporting house, Mary Robinson, a woman as clever as she is beautiful. In response to a churlish remark from Dr. Watson about the morality of her establishment, she replies: "Morality is a matter of power, nothing more and nothing less. The rich impose it on the poor, men impose it on women, and the forces of reaction impose it upon those who seek a better world."Needless to say, Holmes becomes especially attentive to this suspect's articulate charm. But charm gives way to terror in the exciting climax of the tale, a chase on the rails that ends with Holmes and the Red Demon squared off on a lonely bridge in a fiery circle of death. "Never," says Watson, "was Holmes more magnificent than at that moment."