Sunday, February 3, 2019

Death on a train

My recent Facebook post about transcontinental train travel led me to consider mysteries set on passenger trains. (Lots of things lead me to thinking about mysteries.) There are quite a few.

Dick Francis was an author I thoroughly enjoyed. While he was writing I bought and devoured almost everything he wrote as soon as it was published. I have about half a bookshelf of his mysteries almost all of them in a setting connected with horse racing. The Edge (1989) is one that combines a racing theme with a transcontinental train journey across Canada. From the book's flyleaf:
It's greed and honor neck and neck in the home stretch! A racy new thriller by the internationally acclaimed artist of suspense.

The ad was irresistible—and prophetic: "A mystery that will grab you by the throat. A stunning experience. All around you the story will unfold. Clues will appear. .... BEWARE. MANY PEOPLE ARE NOT WHAT THEY SEEM."

When young Tor Kelsey, undercover security operative for the British Jockey Club, masquerades as a waiter on a horse-racing junket called The Great Transcontinental Mystery Race Train, he's told to expect trouble—in the villainous person of one Julius Apollo Filmer. But what awaits him surpasses even the teasers for the on-board entertainment, a full-fledged mystery drama, with actors impersonating passengers, and all manner of staged incidents, from lovers' quarrels to murder. Almost immediately, the promised diversion turns horrifyingly true, as the luxury train winds its way across Canada, strewing a trail of real-life violence in its wake.

First, unexpected happenings befall a private railroad car belonging to a rich and troubled racing family. Then, sabotage on the Mystery Train itself threatens the affluent owners and racing fans with a full-speed collision.... And then, someone dies.

Julius Apollo Filmer is a genius of blackmail and other forms of corruption. He is clearly the mastermind behind the chain of mishaps, but Tor is well aware that his nemesis is his equal in cleverness and guile. A man who murders without qualm and destroys reputations without guilt is hard to nail, but Tor vows to trap him with a particularly shocking sort of surprise.

Moving at a lightning pace, crowded with a cast of fascinating characters, The Edge is blue-chip action suspense as only the sure hand of Dick Francis can produce it.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated. I will gladly approve any comment that responds directly and politely to what has been posted.