Death on a Branch Line – Andrew Martin

Yes, I’m building up a good head of steam on the Jim Stringer books now, so much so that I’ve nearly caught up. This, the fifth in the series, was first published last year. It’s set in the hot summer of 1911, with suspicions and general paranoia about German activities running high.

It’s a weekend in July, and Jim’s supposed to be taking his wife Lydia to Scarborough for the weekend, but after a chance encounter with a man being taken to Durham, where he’ll be executed on Monday morning, he changes his plans. Off they go to a small village called Adenwold, the place where Hugh Lambert[1] apparently killed his father, and where his brother John is more than likely to be killed before the weekend is out. Jim believes Hugh to be innocent, and sets out to do what he can…

And it all gets a wee bit complicated – there’s a mysterious cyclist, a man with some German documents, and a nice collection of local characters. Jim decides it’s all a bit much, and sends for his Chief Inspector, who turns up as expected. Jim gets a little confused when he realises that the Chief arrived in Adenwold before his telegram was sent. Jim also tries to persuade Lydia to return home, to keep her out of the danger that he is sure is not far away, but she’s not having any of that…

As with the other books, it’s a good, entertaining read, with a mystery that takes a lot of solving. But the murder is only part of the story, which ends up getting Jim involved in deeper matters than he’s ever seen before. And there’s lots of gratuitous railway detail, of course. Good fun, worth a read.

[1] The man being taken to Durham