It seems that railway-themed detective novels are more like buses than trains – you wait a year, then two come along at once. The ninth in Edward Martston’s Railway Detective series came out at much the same time as the eighth in Andrew Martin’s Jim Stringer series, The Baghdad Railway Club, which I mentioned a few days ago, and quite naturally came next on my reading list.
It’s much the same thing as usual – Inspector Colbeck and Sergeant Leeming are summoned to deal with a murder, this time in Exeter, where the body of the popular local stationmaster has been found in the remains of a Guy Fawkes bonfire. On arrival, they have to deal with initially hostile local police, a singularly annoying Bishop, and the usual mix of characters regular readers will be expecting. Colbeck is the only one who doesn’t believe that the obvious suspect is guilty, and so he persists with an enquiry that involves a canary, an owl and indeed much more.
As before, it’s not a whodunnit – the final resolution of the problem isn’t something any reader could reasonably guess at, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s a good story well told, and I certainly enjoyed it. Good stuff, and if you haven’t read the earlier books, it’s as good a starting point as any - enough detail is given about the recurring characters to reduce potential confusion.