Book Review: The Railway Detective by Edward Marston

The Railway Detective by Edward Marston

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?

On the plus side, it’s a detective story, set in the early days of both the Railways and the Detective Section of the Met Police. The author seems to have done his research, such as having the detective arrive by train into Birmingham at (then correct) Curzon Street, rather than New Street or Moor Street (the current two most frequently used train stations between London and Birmingham).

On the negative side: It read like the author’s first novel, which apparently it isnt. The book is riddled with stereotypes: the Irish ex-policeman kicked out the force for drunken fighting who makes his living as a bouncer in a rough pub; the slightly dim-witted and subservient sidekick; the head of the detective division being harassed by the press and causing friction with his detectives by stopping them doing what they want to do; the well dressed detective who likes bending the rules almost to breaking point.

On the whole, a decent read, but I’m not sure that I’d continue with the series


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