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The Silver Locomotive Mystery
By Edward Marston

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The Silver Locomotive Mystery

The Silver Locomotive Mystery
By Edward Marston
Magna Large Print Books, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-7505-3170-2
Genre: Mystery

Reviewed by Herbert White - August 6, 2010

Train mysteries are a treat not only for railroading afficionados, but also mystery fans. After all, you are not only treated to a traditional mystery, but also to information about the various trains and railroads that are used in the story. For example, in Agatha's Christie's Murder on the Orient Express, the train was as essential to the plot as was Hercule Poirot. Edward Marston is a master of this 'mysteries revolving around trains' sub genre and his Railway Detective series has a solid and well-earned following. The sixth volume in this series, The Silver Locomotive Mystery has it all - a great deal of train lore, an eclectic cast of characters, and a solid crime that will take all of Scotland Yard Inspector Colbeck's and his assistant, Sergeant Leeming's police training and deductive skills to solve.

This story is set in England. The year is 1855, and it all begins with a silver coffee pot that has been fashioned to look like a locomotive. The pot was commissioned by Clifford Tomkins as a gift for his wife. The coffee pot is accompanied on its journey to Cardiff by Hugh Kellow, a young silversmith who worked on the pot. It never arrives. Kellow is quickly struck off the list of possible suspects when he is discovered to have been brutally murdered.

Inspector Colbeck soon finds himself on his way to Wales, having been asked for specifically by the South Wales Railway, to lead the investigation into Kellow's murder and the loss of the coffee pot. What he expects to be a rather straightforward investigation soon takes several unexpected turns as a group of noted thespians soon muddy the waters as does the discovery of some naughty behind closed-doors misdeeds being carried out between a member of the aristocracy and someone well beneath their notice.

Full of period color and railroading factoids, The Silver Locomotive Mystery is an all-round great read both as a historical novel and as a traditional, police procedural mystery. Colbeck is a skilled detective with an uncanny talent for getting to the truth and Leeming a solid foil for his mental musings. Of course, the theft of the coffee pot and Kellow's murder are not the only crimes that occur in this novel, and each one serves to make it more difficult for Colbeck to solve the case/cases that he has been assigned. Marston has blended all of these crimes together to make one very complicated and devious puzzle that will have you wondering until almost the very end about who did what to whom, and why. One word of warning, don't start this novel until you have enough time on your hands to read it straight through, as it is so fast-paced and engrossing you'll find it very difficult to put down until you've devoured the entire story! As well, although The Silver Locomotive Mystery is part of a series, it is a fine starting point for those new to the Railway Detective mysteries as it stands very well on its own.


The Silver Locomotive Mystery can be purchased directly from Ulverscroft, the parent company of Magna Large Print Books.


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