7 January 2011

Review: RAILWAY TO THE GRAVE, Edward Marston

Published by Allison & Busby 2010
ISBN 978-0-7490-0772-0
350 pages
Source: Local Library

Yorkshire 1855. Colonel Aubrey Tarleton takes his own life by walking along a railway track near his home directly into the path of an oncoming train. He is a good friend of Superintendent Tallis of Scotland Yard, and pinned to Tarleton's chest is a note asking that Tallis be notified of his death.
Tarleton and Tallis were army friends and Tallis refuses to believe that his friend has committed suicide, although the previous day he had received a letter from Tartleton.
    Goodbye, dear friend. Though her body has not yet been found, I know in my heart that she is dead and have neither the strength nor the will to carry on without her. I go to join her in heaven.
Tallis is determined to get to the bottom of events and takes with him to Yorkshire his Scotland Yard team, the famous "Railway Detective" Inspector Robert Colbeck, and his assistant Sergeant Victor Leeming.

This is the third in the railway detective series that I have read by Edward Marston, a pseudonym of Keith Miles. Like the others RAILWAY TO THE GRAVE gives a strong impression of authentic historical setting. I like my historical crime fiction to not just feel like crime fiction transplanted to another time period, but to also reveal something about the period in which it has been set. Marston manages to not only write a strong police procedural, but to tell us something about society of the 1850s, industrial England in which the story is set.

My rating 4.5

I am counting RAILWAY TO THE GRAVE in the following reading challenges
Mini reviews of other titles:

THE RAILWAY DETECTIVE, my rating 4.6   
1851 is the setting for this first title in the Railway Detective series: the year of the Great Exhibition, and the building of the Crystal Palace. The Detective Department of Scotland Yard is only 9 years old. A train on the Great Western Railway is held up at Leighton Buzzard, its driver seriously hurt, the train robbed of the consignment of gold coins that it is carrying, and finally derailed. The investigator is Inspector Robert Colbeck, a considerate, well-spoken, well educated and gifted lawyer turned policeman. He has spent minimal time in uniform and brings a different outlook to law enforcement, focusing on crime prevention rather than punishment. The story has an authentic depiction of mid 19th century English society on the brink of the second industrial revolution. Good reading.

THE EXCURSION TRAIN, my rating 4.0
London 1852. A trainful of excited "fans" are delivered to the illegal prize fight between Mad Isaac and the Bargeman near Twyford. But one second class passenger does not leave the train. He has been garrotted en route. Inspector Robert Colbeck of the Detective Department of the Metropolitan Police at Scotland Yard, now known as the Railway Detective, after his success in the previous year, takes up the case. The dead passenger is identified as Jake Bransby, public executioner. The real reason why Bransby took on being hangman is revealed, and Colbeck discovers that Bransby had many enemies. This is #2 in the Railway Detective series. Marston has further developed the relationship between Colbeck and Maddy, the daughter of the train driver who appeared in the first book in the series. Lawyer turned detective Colbeck signals the beginning of a new breed of policemen, those who look beyond the obvious, and seek to understand why.

Inspector Robert Colbeck
1. The Railway Detective (2004)
2. The Excursion Train (2005)
3. The Railway Viaduct (2006)
4. The Iron Horse (2007)
5. Murder on the Brighton Express (2008)
6. The Silver Locomotive Mystery (2009)
7. Railway to the Grave (2010)
8. Blood on the Line (2011)


Anonymous said...

Kerrie - Thanks, as always, for this review. I happen to really like historical mysteries, so this one has piqued my interest. There goes my TBR! ;-)

Sally said...

I think the covers on Marston's books are wonderfully descriptive and they make me feel like I am right there.



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