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The Somme Stations (Jim Stringer Steam Detective 7) [Hardcover]

Andrew Martin
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.99
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Book Description

3 Mar 2011 Jim Stringer Steam Detective 7

On the first day of the Somme enlisted railwayman Jim Stringer lies trapped in a shell hole, smoking cigarette after cigarette under the bullets and the blazing sun. He calculates his chances of survival - even before they departed for France, a member of Jim's unit had been found dead.

During the stand-off that follows, Jim and his comrades must operate by night the vitally important trains carrying munitions to the Front, through a ghostly landscape of shattered trees where high explosive and shrapnel shells rain down. Close co-operation and trust are vital. Yet proof piles up of an enemy within, and as a ferocious military policeman pursues his investigation into the original killing, the finger of accusation begins to point towards Jim himself . . .

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber (3 Mar 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571249604
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571249602
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 24.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 388,516 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Andrew Martin grew up in Yorkshire. After qualifying as a barrister, he won The Spectator Young Writer of the Year Award, 1988. Since, he has written for The Guardian, the Daily and Sunday Telegraph, the Independent and Granta, among many other publications. His columns have appeared in the Independent on Sunday and the New Statesman. His Jim Stringer novels - railway thrillers - have been published by Faber and Faber since 2002.

Product Description

Book Description

A stunning historical novel of crime in the trenches from the acclaimed author of the Jim Stringer series.

About the Author

Andrew Martin is a journalist and novelist. The Somme Stations is the seventh book in his much-loved 'Jim Stringer' series which began with The Necropolis Railway in 2002. The third and fourth books in the series, Murder at Deviation Junction and Death on a Branch Line, were shortlisted for the Ellis Peters Historical Crime Award and, in 2008, Andrew Martin was shortlisted for the CWA Dagger in the Library Award.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
45 of 47 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stringer goes to war 6 April 2011
By Michael Finn TOP 1000 REVIEWER
The Somme Stations is Andrew Martin's seventh book featuring Jim Stringer. The series usually follows Stringer's investigations as a Detective at the York office of the North Eastern Railway Police. This one though takes place during the First World War. It begins after most of the events in the book have concluded with Jim's wife writing letters to a friend as he recovers from injuries sustained during his time in France and with a murder charge hanging over him. How we got to this point is recounted in first person by Jim himself, beginning with his enlistment and followed by his war service, the tone being very like an extended letter home or a personal memoir. It's colourfully written with language authentic to the time and location, though thankfully it doesn't try to annotate the local accents. I'm a northern lad myself, of the red rose variety rather than the white, but even so books that insist on putting accent onto the page do become tedious fast unless the writer is something of a genius. The writer here keeps it simple. He builds the ensemble characters/suspects competently, choosing to focus on their little quirks and eccentricities to quickly establish the who's who. It's well done and something a bit different. Stringer retains no police rank in this book and gives a suspect's point of view to the investigation which takes a while to get started and then simmers quietly in the background as Stringer's regiment is trained, goes to France, including that fateful day, July 1st on the Somme, and later establishing a network of light railways, ferrying ammunition to artillery emplacements. Even without the mystery element to the story, the fictional war memoir is very well researched, amusing, poignant and authentic sounding. Add to that the author's obvious love for all things relating to steam locomotion and you have an unusual addition to the crime fiction genre.
This review was from an Advance Reading Copy.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating but so-so plot 7 May 2012
By Rob Kitchin TOP 1000 REVIEWER
The Somme Stations is the seventh Jim Stringer railway detective series and the first I've read. It can certainly be read as a standalone. The strength of the book is in placing the reader in the lives of a small group of men as they go through their training and onwards to the frontline, and the historical detail concerning the use of miniature railway system to transport ammunition and supplies along the front. The lead character is rather unassuming character and relatively uncharismatic, which I found a somewhat welcome change to some detective series. He is surrounded by a motley crew of characters that are well penned. Where I had problems was with respect to the plot. The book has a ponderous start and a weak end. In fact, with the exception of the time on Spurn Head, the time in Blighty (the beginning and end) felt flat and listless. The ending in particular didn't work for me. At one point, one of the characters said something like, 'You worked it out from that?', pretty much as I was thinking the same thing. The mystery element relies on unlikely coincidences, an unlikely confession in terms of location, and leaps of imagination, and it's hard to believe that Stringer suddenly developed a Poirot-like mind. I also think the book would have also been stronger if it had been written in the third person. It would have allowed the narrator more scope to describe and explain both the main plot and to contextualise the First World War. Overall, the bulk of the book, especially the time in France, was an engaging and informative read and made the book worth reading; it was just a shame that the mystery wasn't quite up to scratch.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric detective novel 9 July 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I think this is the seventh in the Jim Stringer - Railway Detective series. I think I read and quite enjoyed the first one, but the next five seem to have passed me by. But this one is set in the First World War and the context appealed to me to I dived in.

Stringer is swept up in the nationalistic stampede to take the King's shilling and win the war by Christmas. Joining a division of North Yorkshire Railway men Jim finds himself training alongside ex porters, drivers, and railway police. Generally they are regarded as pioneers, which seems to mean diggers and while on training in the UK, a young soldier is discovered dead. Nobody is sure if it is an accident or murder and this hangs over the men as they finally ship to France, and the Somme. Eventually they find themselves operating trains bringing munitions to the forward lines and amongst the death and mayhem, it appears that the death back in the UK is still festering with some of the men and some of them are hiding secrets.

This was good, historically sound and interesting with a real sense of atmosphere both in Britain and then in war torn France. Characterisation is excellent and the pace is perfect for you to grow with the characters and you do care when some of them don't make it and you take them at face value as Jim has to.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Somme Stations. 12 April 2011
An interesting mix of First World War action, Detective investigation and Narrow Gauge Railways. Once again Andrew Martin has brought to life the World of Jim Stringer [Steam Detective] You can almost smell the Steam and the cordite. His loving wife Lydia always ready to help in any investigation and his railway colleagues from the North Eastern Railway. Can't wait for no;8.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars steam train enthusiasts will enjoy the historical detail
Mildly diverting mystery; steam train enthusiasts will enjoy the historical detail. Not me though.
Published 13 days ago by BobMay
4.0 out of 5 stars Strong story.
Jim Stronger enlists with the railway battalion, alongside an assortment of men, from all departments of York station. Read more
Published 26 days ago by A. C. Green
5.0 out of 5 stars Possibly the best yet
As with Jim Stringer's civvy-street adventures, the local colour and atmosphere, and the splendid characterisation, rather than a convoluted plot, are what mark Andrew Martin out... Read more
Published 1 month ago by 'Fountain Pen'
5.0 out of 5 stars The Somme Stations
Good account of World War 1
Published 1 month ago by Mrs. D. K. Bellamy
2.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't get onboard!
This was the first Jim Stringer book I read and it will be the last, it just wasn't for me. The story had so much potential, involving the murder of a volunteer amongst the... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Damo Green
3.0 out of 5 stars the story kept my attention
I was pleased to have read this book I was not sure at the beginning but kept going and it held my attention
Published 5 months ago by Alex Blevins
5.0 out of 5 stars Unusual Thriller
My first Andrew Martin book. It won't be my last. Well thought out and conveyed the horror of WWI showing the pressures on ordinary men thrown into the conflict by dint of their... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Andrew Fletcher
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
An absolutely wonderful book not only is it a very good detective story but is a piece of facinating social history. Read more
Published 8 months ago by M. Garey
1.0 out of 5 stars I'm really interested in the Great War and I enjoy crime thrillers
I really struggled with this book. I'm really interested in the Great War and I enjoy crime thrillers, so I was expecting to enjoy it. I tried, I really tried. Read more
Published 9 months ago by David Bartlett
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Historical novel.
Excellent historical novel, murder mystery, set during the heart of WW1 on the Western Front, based on good research of the period. Highly recommended.
Published 9 months ago by Kentish Man
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