When his train is nearly derailed, a young Yorkshire railwayman once more turns sleuth.
Since his previous escapade (The Necropolis Railway, 2007), engine cleaner Jim Stringer has gotten closer to his lifelong dream of driving a train. As fireman aboard The Blackpool Highflyer, he gets to ride alongside rugged driver Clive Carter. In 1905, trains like the Highflyer are growing in importance as modes of transportation, even for the working class. During a trip from Halifax to Blackpool, the train suffers what the press calls a “narrow escape” after someone places a large stone on the track. Clive is heralded as a hero for averting total disaster, but a young woman named Margaret Dyson is killed and her son orphaned in the suspicious accident. Jim is well aware that Clive was driving too fast. So when the train goes on an unforeseen hiatus, Jim, driven by guilt as well as curiosity, decides to investigate. His wife, faithful and intuitive, provides moral and corporal support and a nightly sounding board. Jim’s probe provides Martin an excuse to pack the narrative with historical color, as well as a plethora of train lore. Jim encounters radical socialists itching to incite factory hands to an uprising and the possibly corrupt owners who exploit them. Is the death of the 99-year-old chairman of Hind’s Mill due to natural causes or a link to the alleged crime?
Brisk and atmospheric, the middle volume of a proposed trilogy.