The Railway Detective by Edward Marston

A while back, I reviewed The Nine Giants by the same author, and, it’s fair to say, I didn’t enjoy it much. However, Kerrie, from Mysteries in Paradise, suggested a different series from Marston, namely The Railway Detective, that I might enjoy more.

It’s London 1851, the Great Exhibition is on the verge of opening and the railways are coming into their own. But when a train is both robbed and destroyed, Detective Inspector Colbeck is called into action.

This book is subtitled “A Detective Inspector Colbeck Mystery”. I’m not particularly happy with the use of the word mystery here. Not in the slightest.

In my opinion, if a book claims to be a mystery, then the reader is the one being invited to solve it. There must be unknown things presented, either participant, method, motive (preferably all three), that the reader is encouraged to be thinking about while the novel unfolds to its eventual denouement. When, for example, the villain appears and pretty much the first thing he does is say “Look at me, I’m the villain”… that’s not a mystery. At least The Nine Giants had a twist in it.

This book is, I suppose, an adventure, at best a thriller. It’s a decent enough read, and if you’re interested in the era or trains, you’ll probably enjoy it, but I find it hard to bring myself to be particularly excited by it.

Oh, I tell a lie – there is a mystery. Why, when the villain is portrayed as a rich gentleman, does he bother to blackmail people with stolen letters? He hardly meeds the money.

It is a lovely cover, though.

WHERE CAN I GET IT?

That’s two out of three disappointments in my recent “3 for £5” from The Works – see here for the first. Luckily the third was from Simon Brett, so I’ve high hopes for that one…

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