The cover of this book showing a steam engine evokes the feel of Victorian times, the romance of the railways and new industry, the smoky and dark suspense of dimly-lit alleyways. The detective in this series focuses on railways in the Midlands of England and this, as the title states, is a Christmas murder.
The story opens with a special Christmas treat for workers and their families having an annual excursion on the train for free. There is a blockage on the line and the driver tries not to alarm the passengers and spoil their rare day out, but the man who organised the trip is shot dead by an unknown sniper. Then of course, the railway detective and his team is called in to solve the crime and work out who is the murderer.
There are several points of view, all expressed in the third person, and there are quite a few characters. The book highlights the class system from the very wealthy landowner and her distain for the workers to the poorer people who are glad that the rich employers will take the time to let them have a train ride. The police officer is not too happy though when he is told to use the tradesman's entrance. There is also an interesting take on the Black Country region of the Midlands, so-called because of the pollution caused by industry, compared to the affluence and picturesque Malvern Hills and Worcestershire, particularly the spa town of Great Malvern.
There is a definite feel of the pedestrian way of life in Victorian England, and the story plods on trudging through a complex trail of investigation. The writing is clear and ageless and this is perfect for those who like railways, trains and Victorian detectives and mysteries.
Published by Allison and Busby on 20 October 2022.
Advanced review copy supplied by the publisher.