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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
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on 25 June 2012
I've read most of the Stringer novels and enjoyed nearly every one of them. Not so this one. It felt a bit like a novella strung (groan!) out to novel length. The setting and premise was excellent and it promised a corker of a story, but it just sort of fizzled out before it got started.

The plot ended up being a little flimsy and, to be frank, I got a bit bored about halfway through. I persevered, but most of the characters (apart from Stringer) were a bit stereo-typed and didn't really get much further than being caricatures.

Sorry to be a bit negative, but I'm looking forward to the next one!
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on 18 July 2012
I've read and enjoyed all of the Jim Stringer stories, some of which are better than others; the two books preceding this are particuarly good. Unfortunately this is one of Stringer's less convincing investigations.

The story starts promisingly, but once Stringer arrives in Baghdad, he seems overcome by the heat and the alien culture. This is an effective device for conveying to the reader what it would have felt like to be in Baghdad then. However, as Stringer is the narrator, this leaves the reader in the lurch, and the plot doesn't progress much, until the regulator is opened wide in the final few pages, and plot makes up lost time to arrives at its destination.

I hope that Stringer's next case is more engaging.
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on 18 March 2013
This is perhaps the weakest of Andrew Martin's eight Jim Stringer books. In the earlier books, the atmosphere of railway life is well portrayed. However, in the latest, the characters are poorly delineated, the plot is weak and there is never a sense of tension leading to the final denouement.
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on 14 March 2016
Andrew Martin's books are always good value for money but this book peters out a bit as the tension starts to build up. The capturing of period detail and historical knowledge regarding a little know but notorious episode in the British and Indian army's history. As ever, the dialogue is compelling and Martin manages to build up the element of mystery. However, the final conclusion of the story is a little bit of a disappointment even of the journey of the story is entertaining. Where it does score is with the parallels with the British army's equally ill-judged campaign in Iraq nearly ninety years later and many of the place names will familiar.

I have read a number of the Jim Stringer novels and if I warm to his character and the assembly of supporting characters, this is not as good as the previous "The Somme Stations" which is a more interesting plot and far more exciting.
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on 19 March 2013
I do not feel this book is up to the usual high standards of Andrew Martin. I have read all the Jim Stringer books and enjoyed them all. He transposes you to the time and you feel you are there. However this book is thin on plot and seems to have too much padding. Almost as though he feels as though its time to write another Jim Stringer so lets get on with it. I must say though that I am still a fan and will buy the next one.
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on 25 January 2013
The intriguing title caught my eye and initially I bought this for my train mad brother. Before I wrapped it I thought I would just look inside and I was hooked. Excellent characters well described. I believe it to be historically correct but even if it wasn't it gave quite an insight into the building of a railway and the problems at that time
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on 20 September 2012
There is a certain topicality to this book, in that many of the placenames are familiar with recent (and ongoing) conflicts in the Middle East.

That helps to set the scene, but I found this book rather bitty and not one of AMs best. The jump from Stringer being a private in the previous book in the series, to now a member of the officer class as a captain, not very convincing. A step too far in my eyes.

Enjoyed the book, despite my reservations, but only three stars this time.
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on 3 February 2013
Another wonderful story about York detective, Jim Stringer; this is now his 8th outing.

Recuperating from wounds and his time on the Western Front; Jim, in his Army persona is promoted to Captain Stringer and tasked to uncover a traitor following the fall of Baghdad.

As always railways and steam locomotion are the real stars of these beautifully written books and this is no exception. Indeed it is more exotic as it covers the railways of Mesopotamia around the summer of 1917. Jim gets to drive the engine as they head into the desert on a couple of occasions, culminating in a Mexican/Arab standoff. By reputation Stringer is nothing if he is not dogged and it is his determination and strength of character, even when being overwhelmed by sickness, helps him solve yet another case.

Interwoven into the storyline is the early process of silent movie-making' at times the film makers seem to follow his every step. However rather than blowing his cover, a realisation when watching part of the film back brings about the final solution of this complicated assignment of intrigue in the desert and around the streets of Baghdad.

Andrew Martin has a scholarly love of the railways but above all else he is a marvellous storyteller and this is another great read in that growing cannon of work, but is well worth reading as a stand-alone novel. It will delight all who read it and send them scurrying for earlier episodes in the engaging series.
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on 30 December 2013
Jim Stringer is never going to go down as one of the great detectives. Things tend to happen around him and he succeeds almost despite himself.

The joy of this series, however, is in the historical detail. Martin brilliantly evokes the time and place of the early 20th century with the occasional sly poke at the present day.

It's also interesting to read a book set in the first world war that isn't about the Western Front.
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on 15 September 2014
Not Mr. Martin's best - in fact, the least worthy of all the Stringer books so far. But still a goodish read, and still showing examples of Mr. Martin's best qualities, such as local colour (superb images of Baghdad and the desert) and character (nobody does it better).
Stringer himself is as admirable as ever, and it's an enjoyable new departure to see him in an army captain's uniform and the new status it gives him.
His role in the plot, however, seemed almost periferal at times, but it could be that Martin wished to show how his hero was a little out of his depth among the social elite of the army. The plot also seemed mildly confusing, but the surprise ending, with its superbly hectic drama, explained everything - I think...
Jarvis's fate doesn't sit comfortably with me; there seemed no need for him to take such an extreme measure, and I felt that his behaviour was implausible.
An enjoyable read, nevertheless, but, please, Jim, get back to York, Lydia, and the Chief!
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