Posts Tagged With: Victorian

Murder on the Brighton Express by Edward Marston

murder-on-the-brighton-express

Synopsis from Amazon:

October 1854. As an autumnal evening draws to a close, crowds of passengers rush onto the soon to depart London to Brighton Express. A man watches from shadows nearby, grimly satisfied when the train pulls out of the station…Chaos, fatalities and unbelievable destruction are the scene soon after when the train derails on the last leg of its journey. What led to such devastation, and could it simply be a case of driver error? Detective Inspector Colbeck, dubbed the ‘railway detective’ thinks not. But digging deep to discover the target of the accident takes time, something Colbeck doesn’t have as the killer prepares to strike again.

This is the first Marston book I have read, and I really enjoyed it. Set in 1854, we meet the Railway Detective, Inspector Robert Colbeck. When the Brighton Express collides with a goods train, Colbeck has his work cut out for him. With his partner, Leeming, they have to find the man who instigated the crash, and all the people connected with this horrific incident. There are many lines of enquiry that Colbeck pursues. The adventure and excitement range from the first page to the last, with many suspects being chased, several attempted murders and obstacles to overcome such as unsupportive railway investigators.

I wasn’t excited to read this book, however, I quickly changed my mind. I feared it would be all about trains, but it wasn’t. Although the starting point is the train crash, the investigations take the reader away from the railways and into the heart of Brighton and London. Marston’s writing was engaging, gripping and enthralling. I found myself not wanting to put the book down. It was an easy read, but very enjoyable. Even people who are not fans of the crime genre will enjoy this book. I was guessing right up to the end. I did have my suspicions that were confirmed but with several leads the outcome was not clear.

I think the way Marston portrayed the characters. I was convinced by all of them. My favourite was Tallis, the scary superintendant. He made me laugh in several places. I was also impressed by the historical accuracy. At all times you were in Victorian England, which I appreciated.

Overall, I highly recommend this book. I can’t find any faults. A fast, enjoyable read, with several deaths, several leads and some great story telling.

10/10

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The Seance by John Harwood

The Seance is a dark, Gothic tale, set in Victorian England.  The central character is Constance, who on becoming an orphan, begins to suspect that her family history is not as simple as she was led to believe. She inherits a crumbling,  country house called Wraxford Hall, which is central to the book’s plot; it’s eerie, dilapidated state adds to the mysterious atmosphere. Constance vows to discover the truth behind her ancestry, and unravel the mysterious events which have taken place in the house.

The book is full of things which cannot be explained. Why does anyone who see the ghost of a monk in the grounds of the house die within a month? Why have previous owners of the mansion disappeared in thunderstorms? and what role does the suit of armor play in it all?

I loved the historical detail in the book. The Victorians’ understanding of the spirit world was fascinating, and very well researched. I felt totally immersed in the world of clairvoyants and mysticism. Constance’s character behaved realistically, and I quickly grew to love her. 

I didn’t find it very scary, but it was definitely a bit creepy. It was a real page turner, and there were times when I had to stop myself from racing ahead to find out what happens. There was the odd occasion when I lost myself a little bit by doing this, and had to re-read sections to understand exactly what was going on. This was only a minor flaw, and probably due to the fact that it is so tightly plotted. I didn’t spot many of the clever twists, although there were a few that I saw a mile away!

This is a well constructed, Gothic mystery which I recommend to anyone who likes reading about Victorian life, or who is just after a well written story, packed with secrets.

8/10

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