The Railway Detective by Edward Marston
Review by Jacqui Slaney
I have always liked detective books, especially those set in an earlier time such as Agatha Christie and Ngaio Marsh to name two authors. Therefore, when I saw a series of books set in Victorian England, I was interesting the description sounded interesting, so I thought I would try it.
This is the description:
In 1851 England, the city of London anticipates the grand opening of the Great Expedition. Excitement is mounting with each engineering triumph of the railways, but not everyone feels like celebrating. A sudden attack hits the London to Birmingham mail train and it is looted and derailed. Planned with military precision, Detective Inspector Robert Colbeck fights to untangle a web of murder, blackmail and destruction. As Colbeck closes in on the criminal masterminds, events take an unexpected turn when the beautiful Madeline, daughter of the injured train driver, becomes a pawn in the criminals’ game. With time, running out, good and evil, new and old, battle against each other. But will the long arm of the law have speed on its side? Full of historical detail, unexpected twists and memorable characters, this is a mystery that will surprise you at every turn.
The story opens with violence, the mail train is robbed of its gold bullion and when one of the crew tries to resist as they see that their beloved engine is about to be derailed they are seriously assaulted.
Scotland Yard investigates and they soon decide that there must be inside knowledge of the trains’ cargo. This is where you first meet Inspector Colbeck and Sergeant Leeming who are given the case to solve.
I glanced at reviews before I purchased this book, as I did not know the author and the majority of them raved about how good the book was, so thought I would be onto an entertaining series.
I started to struggle with the book though quite quickly although there were plenty of elements that should have made it good.
The story is set at the beginning of the expansion of the Railways so you have the conflict between landowners and the railway owners. The police force themselves were changing from consisting of ex military men to having a proper detective branch, so you have conflict between Colbeck and his superior who interferes with his work. You even have a love interest with a romance starting between Colbeck and Madeline.
However, I just could not get involved in this story; I found it dull.
Looking at what I have written, that sounds harsh, but unfortunately, it is true, all the things were there that’s should have made it a good read but they just did not gel for me.
I found myself flicking through pages trying to get into the story, but without success.
Looking back at the reviews, I can see that some people struggled but the majority seem to give the story and the writer ringing endorsements.
To me the characters were flat and did not get my interest even when they were in trouble.
I am a bit stubborn, so I did hold onto the end and so am able to say that by the end I had found the story had picked up slightly and came to a satisfactory conclusion.
Would I read the next one? Not at this time.
Would I recommend this one, well this is only my opinion, another reader might find it as good as the other reviewers did, but I do not think I could actually recommend this book to anyone.
5 out of 10