The Night Watchman Express is a very ambitious story with numerous settings and a large cast, but the author so skillfully guides the reader that it isn't until the end that we look back and say: "Wow! We really went through a lot!"
The rich pallet of main characters are, for the most part, strangers to one another at the onset, so we don't step into a story already in progress, but rather learn the characters and situations as the characters themselves discover what is unfolding. The characters are well defined, yet dynamic and complex. A good writer may achieve two of those three characteristics for a small number of characters, but only a great writer can achieve the level of development we see in this tale with as broad a cast as the one this story offers.
The writing style is relaxed and natural and never distracts from the story, while giving the reader all the information he or she needs. As characters speak, we don't just know their words, but we also see the actions and body language that accompany those words. Those non-verbal clues allow us to really understand what is happening at a higher level than we would get from simple dialogue.
We can tell there's something big going on and the bits and pieces are revealed masterfully. There are a lot of surprises, but hints leading to those surprises are dropped like breadcrumbs on each page so that when they are revealed, it's a pleasant feeling of watching the pieces fall into place - as opposed to a sense of: "Hey, where did that come from?".
There are numerous settings and each is well defined and offers a unique mood to that portion of the story. Overall a masterfully spun tale that leaves the reader feeling that they didn't simply read a story, but rather experienced it.