Mystery Book Reviews

Book Review: The Excursion Train by Edward Marston

By Angela Youngman Oct 5, 2006, 2:23 GMT

Book Review: The Excursion Train by Edward Marston

Murder in the midst of merriment can be the most shocking sort, and so it is in the case of Jacob Bransby--brutally strangled with a length of wire while on board a train carriage crowded with lowlife Londoners, all bound for an illegal bare-knuckle prizefight in Berkshire in 1852. That the deceased\'s wallet was not purloined leaves Scotland Yard Inspector Robert Colbeck wondering at the motive for this heinous act--and, ...more

Brilliant! This is one of the best books I have read for a long time. It is compulsive reading. Once you get started, it is hard to put down. Set in Victorian London, a man is found dead on an excursion train.

It soon becomes evident that this is no accidental killing. The victim is a hangman and a public executioner; many of his enemies were on the same excursion to a prize fight. Detective Inspector Colbeck and his assistant Sergeant Leeming have the task of dealing with the crime.

Other murders follow as well as attacks on the train system including an attempt to blow up one of the tunnels. Are these incidents and murders linked? Just how many crimes is Colbeck trying to solve at the same time?

The climax set within the dramatic surroundings of the Great Exhibition is quite fascinating. With these well drawn characters and a plot that positively spins along;

Edward Marston has lived up to his reputation as a good historical crime writer. The story is full of historical insights into the tensions between different classes, between those in favour of the railways and those opposed.

The atmosphere is well drawn, you can smell the smoke and the fear and the all round tension.



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