Jim Stringer is desperate to be a 'railway man'. He reads railway magazines, spurns his fathers butcher shop for the glamorous life on the railways and wants, more than anything, to be driving the engines he worships. When he is working as a porter, a mysterious man offers him work in London which could lead to his goal of becoming an engine driver, and he heads off full of excitement. However, turn of the century London turns out to be dark, dangerous and threatening. It is obvious from the start that Jim is resented and disliked. The railway, linked to the mysterious Necropolis Railway, has had some recent mysterious deaths - and Jim soon witnesses another attack. He fears he will also find himself dead and is given the cold shoulder at every turn, making him miserable and lonely, but unwilling to admit defeat of all his dreams. The only positive point seems to be his pretty landlady, but when she informs him he is 'boring' you almost want to cheer her - as it has to be said that the beginning of this book is pretty slow and Jim doesn't seem to be heroic stuff. However, the novel does improve in the second half and the storyline becomes more exciting. I would say that this first book in the series sets the scene and the characters, but it is obviously intended to encourage further reading and I would certainly be interested to see where the author is leading in the second book. This is a very atmospheric read and, although I dislike television/film adaptations of books almost always, I did feel that this could be very good on screen. I found that Jim Stringer was, in the end, a very likeable and brave man and will certainly be downloading the next in the series.
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