December 1860. The morning shift at the Swindon Locomotive works sees an army of men pouring out of terraced houses built by the GWR. This is a town and planned community that aims to provide for its employees from the cradle to the grave. Unfortunately, the men happen upon the body of boiler smith Kenneth Rodman. Mr. Rodman is headed for the grave sooner than expected, or he will be once his missing head is found.
Colbeck, the Railway Detective, finds his investigation into Rodman’s murder mired in contradictions and far too many suspects. Was the victim a short-tempered brawler, or a committed Christian and chorister, with the voice of an angel who aimed to better himself? On the trail of Rodman’s killer as the holiday season starts, Colbeck finds little festive cheer in the twists and turns of this peculiar case.
A Christmas Railway Mystery is the creation of Edward Marston. This book is very entertaining and a wonderful addition to the Railway Detective Series. Mr. Marston is a highly creative writer who knows his subject matter and can weave a story that will keep the reader turning the page.
Detective Colbeck is a man who knows how to solve a crime. He is patient as well as compassionate; he makes certain he has the right man or woman before he takes the necessary steps to slap on the handcuffs. The character is charming, intelligent and methodical.
Colbeck’s sidekick, Victor Leeming is a study in contradiction. He jumps from one suspect to another and is always sure he knows who the killer is, and changes his mind as often as he changes his shirt. He is slowly learning to look before leaping under the detective’s guidance. This character brings smiles and occasional laughter, mixed with a bit of head shaking for the reader. Supporting characters are interesting, a few are the type that we love to hate. The characters keep the reader engaged throughout the story. Even the suspects have a fascination to them that makes the reader want to find out who they are.
Mr. Marston designed the setting for this book with enough detail to allow the reader to travel back in time and feel that they understand the layout of the area, the railway system as well as the people who live and work there along with the purpose for everything they do.
When the killer is revealed, many will scratch their head wondering how they could have missed the clues that point to a murderer but will know the solution is correct. This is a tribute to the talent, skill, and creativeness of the author. A Christmas Railway Mystery is fast-paced, well written and highly entertaining. Anyone who enjoys a good who-done-it will find that they cannot put this book down.