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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 25 March 2010
This is the first Edward Marston book that I have read so it was out of sequence in the 'Railway Detective' series. However, it made no difference as it proved to be a marvellous stand alone book in it's own right. I found it a joy to read and finished it in a couple of days. I shall be, without doubt, investing in the rest of the series.
I'm a fan of crime stories and have read many from the likes of Dexter, Rankin and Hill. Edward Marston, in comparison, has a much lighter touch but still manages to keep the reader enthralled and eagerly turning page afer page.
I enjoyed the building up of the main characters and their backgrounds. I found the plot, with it's twists and turns and blind allys, engrossing. All in all I found this book a very enjoyable light read and look forward to reading this series from the start.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 12 December 2008
A quick review for a series that is easy to read and quite enjoyable to boot.
The characters are nicely drawn and sympathetic. There is onviously more mileage to be had with Insp Colbeck and co.
The plots are interesting, wearing the research that the author has conducted lightly on their sleeve. As an example I thought I'd caught the author out in this, the latest instalment, where he has one of the protagonists getting a dose of morphine. In 1854? Surely not. But a quick check shows that morphine was first introduced to English hospitals in about 1843, so he got me there.
One point that intrigues me in this and indeed other books in the series is how quickly the good Inspector gets around the country. Surely some of his journeys must be impossible - but I bet the author has got his research bang on and that such journeys were actually quicker then than now. Is he making a point with this? Come on you railway buffs, could this be true?
Anyway, these are not strictly "whodunits" as the "Bad guy" is usually revealed early doors, so these should be seen as enjoyable period romps, with more than a dash of humour and uncharacteristic for the genre, blood and guts.
Having said all that, having just read these books one after the other this, the fifth was just a tad repetitive (eg a fair bit of reintroducing back story already covered in the other volumes) but for a light, enjoyable (yes that word again) and interesting read, this series, and this volume, fits the bill admirably
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on 11 May 2012
I'd like to have given this book more stars, but it is one of the less strong offerings in the series. I have the rest in prospect now, but am getting a bit Colbeck weary, so will go onto something different for a while - probably a Jim Stringer, as I think that too much Colbeck at once is showing up a fundamental weakness that these stories are somewhat formulaic. I am not sure about the "twists" in the final few chapters, and I feel that some of the key characters could have been introduced sooner - it would not have spoiled the narrative one iota to do so, and I for one would have enjoyed the read more as a result.
All in all, not the best to date, but not bad enough to put me off reading the rest of the series.
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on 6 April 2014
Edward Marston is a very good writer who enables you to believe you are living in the 1850's He knows the way the Police worked in that era and the methods used to solve crime. There is always a twist in the story which keeps you guessing till the last page. I have enjoyed reading all his books and look forward to his next.
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on 8 October 2009
Having recently discovered Edward Marsden and enjoyed The Frost Fair, I decided to try another title. Set in a time without mobile phones or forensics, this is a detective novel with a difference. A really good plot that twists and turns in the days of steam trains that some of us older readers still remember. The smoke, soot and noise of the old engines comes back vividly in the writing. I shall be looking for more in this series and hope they are as absorbing.
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on 10 September 2012
Very easy read, with credable characters and great story line. There are quite a few red herrings, of which you don't know until the end and all becomes clear.

This book has lots of atmosphere and a range of characters from pompous to down to earth.

A very good read. Would recommend.
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on 26 January 2013
All of Edward Marston books are a self contained story, but I would suggest reading the series in order. He has an excellent writing style and you can easily imagine being at the scene described, which is based in Victorian England with a strong railway basis.

The theme is a murder who dunnit or is it. The plot thickens as the book progresses.
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on 28 January 2011
I am working my way through the "Railway Detective" novels and enjoyed the first four. This one, however, takes several steps backward. The previous volume was much more in the tradition of the murder mystery, but this one simply ignores the conventions (I can't specify too much without spoilers).

There is also a distinct air of staleness, with the writer simply going through the motions without any real inspiration: Superintendent Tallis has to be circumvented in order to solve a crime again; Sergeant Leeming gets beaten up and rendered unconscious again; Maddy Andrews gets involved in the case again.

None of this will stop me reading the next in the series but I hope that this represents the nadir.
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on 12 September 2008
I have come to look forward to the arrival of the next Inspector Colbeck novel and this latest edition lacked none of the plotting that I had expected. Yet I found it ratrher disappointing. Many authors of crime fiction have let their attention to detail slip and Agatha Christie sometimes uses the thrill of the denouement to cover up some implausibilities. From past experience I hadn't expected such inconsistencies and loose ends with Edward Marston, yet here we have a suspect being sought in an office from which, we had learned, he had been dismissed; here is someone on the margins of poverty who has fled from her home taking, by some mischance,the makings of a complete disguise! Both of these could have been skilfully avoided with no disturbance to the plot. I guess that publishers these days do not employ editors to check for inconsistencies and proof-readers are only there to check for transposed commas.
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on 26 November 2010
Given that the stories are undated, it is interteresting to try and work out the dates. The first story is set in 1851 so none of the subsequent stories can be any earlier. In this book. the story cannot be correct. Colbeck arrives at Balcome station to take a Hansom Cab to the accident site. Anyone who has every been to Balcome will know that this is not possible; you have to exit the station via a footbridge and a walk up to the road. Colbeck could have done this before 1848 when the station was sited further north but since 1848 he couldn't. The crash is described as a headlong crash but there is a detailed description of the derailed train running along the cess with the offside wheels running down the centre of he track - the approaching train would not have been affected. The method of derailment is also impossible. It is suggested that the 'murderer' using a pick axe had unfastened a length of rail. Firstly you need a track spanner to undo the nuts on the bolts holding the fishplates inplace. Then you'd need a keying hammer to remove all the 'keys' holding the rail in place on the the fishplates. (Alternatively you could have got a 'T' spanner and removed all the fishplate bolts but for one man on a 30' lenth of rail would have been time consuming and exhaustive work). The driver supposedly spots the missing rail. Again it would have been impossible for one man to move a length of rail; you can't leaver out one end - its far too inflexible - at least 8 men would have been need to lift it out of the chairs.

Also in those days, Brighton had a Hansom Cab rank in between platforms 7 and 8 which took you out into Tralfagar Street.

Lack of attention to detail rather then spoils the rest of the story.
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