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on 9 July 2017
this won't be to everyone's taste, it's certainly not formulaic Edward Marston, but I loved it. Witty, insightful, unassuming and clever. Not as atmospheric as Necropolis Railway and runs at a gentle pace mostly but with appropriate bursts of steam (sorry) allowing the characters and settings to be painted, and painted beautifully. Jim's wife is a treat! The railway backdrop, which drew me to this series in the first place, is authentic yet nostalgic as you see the world through Jim's Edwardian and sardonic Yorshire eyes.
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on 2 October 2017
Takes a little time to become accustomed to the language and I think the plot deserved a stronger ending than the one within the book
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on 19 February 2009
I'm amazed that no-one else has given this 5 stars yet. For me, it is that rare thing, a book in which every single page was a pleasure to read.

Jim Stringer is a wonderful, likeable character - not a "dull old plod" as someone said. He's young, not old, for a start, and an intelligent, working-class railwayman with a vividly described life of his own. Through his eyes, we see his relationships: with his wife - a great, sassy character - with the engine driver, Clive, he of the natty suits and well-polished boots - with his plump and slightly mysterious lodger - with the sinister long-haired anarchist Paul etc.

We get a picture of Halifax in 1905, of holiday Blackpool, of the music hall, of the great weaving mills, of the local pubs, and of course, of the steam railway. I found it all fascinating and beautifully written. The images he uses are unusual and compelling. For instance, he describes the sound of a barrel-organ as like someone kicking bottles along a street and somehow managing to make a tune. That just does it for me - I can hear that barrel-organ play!

I found the description of the first trip on the Highflyer steam-engine utterly thrilling and compelling - the way he details the landmarks flashing by, the heat and sweat of stoking the firebox, even the way that particular engine rolls so that it is like dancing on the footplate to keep their balance - I felt I was there with Jim and the driver.

I'm not a railway buff or a steam fanatic but I enjoyed the railway element very much. OK, I might not have exactly understood every single reference to things like vacuum brakes or the spectacle glass - but the gist of the action is always quite clear. And, hey, this is the internet - I'm sure there are explanations of the technical aspects if anyone wants to look them up! Do we have to be spoon-fed?

If you want your fiction crammed full of violence, horror and nightmarish images, as so much modern writing is, then you probably won't like this book. Personally, I'm sick of nightmares. I want to enjoy my reading and with this book I did. I shall be seeking out Jim Stringer again.
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on 19 December 2016
The most boring book I've ever read,I gave up halfway through and it was a struggle. This was a waste of my time and money!!
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on 16 June 2016
Gave up. Needs editing.
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on 7 May 2009
This is the third Jim Stringer book I've read - and they've all been pretty good. As other reviewers have said Andrew Martin's principle achievment is his stunningly good and convincing recreation of an era. It's like going back in a time capsule and clambering out in 1905 industrial Halifax. OK - I wasn't around then but you really feel you've gone through the looking class to another long passed era. And by the way Andrew Martin is streets ahead of Edward Marston who writes enjoyable Edwardian railway pot boilers - Andrew Martin writes on a much higher level altogether. There is however a "but" to all this and it is rather a large "but" - the plot. Quite frankly the plot is curious and unconvincing and seems a flimsy thing to hang a whole novel on.The final denoument left me disbelieving and unsatisfied and indeed I wasn't at all clear what had actually happened.However the journey through the book was enjoyable and Andrew Martin's style is distinctive and clever.I've read his later book "Murder at Deviation Junction" where the writing and atmosphere is even better and (more to the point)the plot is intriging and ultimately convincing - it seems a classic case of practice making perfect!
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on 21 September 2004
This is sprinkled with little nuggets about life in the 1900s, such as when a character leaps onto a tram to post a letter, as there were letterboxes on the trams for passengers' use. The story, which chiefly concerns the attempts by a dogged if rather unimaginative railway man to identify the wreckers who have derailed the eponymous Highflyer, feels at times like it is never going to get going, and the resolution is kind of unsatisfying, I felt, but the principal pleasure of this book lies in its recreation of the era.
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on 4 July 2017
another excellent book, Andrew knows his subject well creates a great background for his story
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on 31 August 2009
I bought this and "Lost Luggage Porter" on a whim and really quite enjoyed it. The plot isn't the stongest and can wane a little, but the images of early 20th Century northern England are very good - for this reason alone, I liked the book a lot. Sometimes I thought the characters could do with a little fleshing out, but then originally being from nothern England myself, I can only say a lot of northern men do keep themselves to themselves, so maybe that's the intention here - dont expect a hearty outpouring of emotion, but a relatively gritty (in a pre "9pm watershed" way) and slip into a lost era where the steam train (and dark satanic mills) prevail and you won't go far wrong.

I suspect someone will almost certainly make a TV series out of this sooner or later, so read it before it could be changed forever!
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on 20 April 2017
A great second novel.
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