The Railway Detective

The Railway Detective

Book - 2004
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In 1851 England, the London to Birmingham mail train is robbed and derailed, injuring the driver and others aboard. However, further investigation proves the seemingly simple robbery to have been impossible. Inspector Robert Colbeck knows this is a case that won't be easily solved. He is faced with the question of how the robbers got into a safe with two keys that were secure at opposite sides of the country. To get to the bottom of the mystery, he enlists the aid of volatile former policeman Brendan Mulryne behind his Superintendent's back to search out the criminals in the notorious Devil's Acre, a cluster of gambling dens in the shadow of Westminster Abbey. However, it may turn out that Mulryne can create more trouble than he can cure. Things get even more complicated as the beautiful daughter of the injured train driver, Madeleine Andrews, comes to Colbeck to provide information, unwittingly drawing the attentions of the crooks. When prime suspects begin to disappear and he learns that there was more than just money on the train, Colbeck realizes that he is dealing with the most driven and powerful criminal he has faced in his career. As the very citizens he is trying to protect begin to be affected by this mastermind, Colbeck must join Mulryne in a race against time before all the evidence is efficiently blown away. The Railway Detective is an action-packed dip into murky 1850s London. Full of twists and with memorable characters, this is a mystery that will surprise you at every turn.
Publisher: London, Eng. : Allison & Busby, 2004.
ISBN: 9780749006334
0749006331
Characteristics: 261 p. ;,23 cm.

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Liber_vermis
Jan 02, 2018

The crime spree starts as a robbery but explodes into acts of terrorism. The author unfolds this police procedural tale in movie-like scenes, with engaging characters, and a touch of witty humour. This crime novel might have been improved by the addition of a simple sketch map of the London-Birmingham railway line showing the relevant station and place names.

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WhidbeyIslander
Aug 09, 2017

For the most part it's a fun read with a likeable detective and some interesting characters and period detail. The mastermind behind the dastardly deeds is known way before the end of the story, so it's not really a mystery, more a semi-police procedural. I thought it was a little too long and the last section involving the railroad driver's daughter could have been truncated or left out.

p
paulsarkisian
Dec 15, 2014

Very pleased with The Railway Detective. I read a couple in the series about detective Robert Colbeck and had to read the initial offering of the series. This one does a good job of filling in the background for the series.
I like Marston's pacing and the cinematic quality of the writing. It is engaging and moves along well. I liked and cared about the characters. I also have been interested in the late 1800's period and the development of modern police work. The advent of the railroads and their effect on society are handled well. Definitely recommend!

r
Roundcat
Jul 02, 2013

Marston has several series, some of which I liked--some didn't appeal to me. This is the first book in this series. His practice at putting together appealing characters, a complex mystery, and a masterful writing style make this a good read. The detective is Robert Colbeck, who was educated as a lawyer, but decided he'd be more interested in a career as a policeman in the newly formed Scotland Yard. The well done setting is 1851 England and a good deal of railway information is germaine to the plot and presented in an interesting manner. I think I'll be reading the rest of this series.

c
carven04
Dec 21, 2009

good late 1800 who dunnit -- scotland yard and all the victorian age nuances etc.

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Liber_vermis
Jan 02, 2018

From the 1850s the growing network of steam-drawn railroads were transforming transportation in Britain. Detective inspector Robert Colbeck and, his colleague, Sergeant Victor Leeming, members of the newly-formed Scotland Yard, are challenged to track down the perpetrators of the first Royal Mail train robbery. But why did the robbers derail the locomotive and its tender after the robbery? Will the death of the bludgeoned locomotive driver turn the investigation into a homicide case? Inspector Colbeck suspects that the criminals have malicious plans for the Crystal Palace, the centrepiece of the Great Exhibition of 1851, but can he overcome Superintendent Edward Tallis' skepticism?

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