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The Railway Detective


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About the Author

Edward Marson was born and brought up in South Wales. A full-time writer for over thirty years, he has worked in radio, film, television and the theatre and is a former chairman of the Crime Writers' Association. Prolific and highly successful, he is equally at home writing children's books or literary criticism, plays or biographies.


The prolific Marston (the Domesday Books series, etc.) starts yet another historical mystery series with this middling police procedural that starts well but runs out of steam. Robert Colbeck, a former attorney now serving as an inspector in the fledging Scotland Yard of 1851, investigates a daring daylight train robbery that results in the derailment of the train and the theft of gold and mail. Later, those initially suspected of having provided the inside information that enabled the scheme's startling and speedy success turn up dead, while someone begins to blackmail members of the upper-class with the stolen letters. The spirited byplay among Colbeck, his rule-bound superintendent and his sergeant recalls Peter Lovesey's superlative Sergeant Cribb novels. But while Colbeck is a bright, unconventional and imaginative sleuth, Marston's choice to unmask the crimes' prime movers halfway through and to reduce an engaging female character, the daughter of the train's driver, into a stereotypical damsel in distress ultimately disappoints. One hopes Colbeck's next exploit will offer a more suspenseful, sophisticated plot. Agent, Jane Conway-Gordon. (May 1) FYI: Marston is the pseudonym of Keith Miles, who is also the author of Honolulu Play-Off (Forecasts, Feb. 23) and other titles in his Alan Saxon golf mystery series. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

'A grand romp very much in the tradition of Holmes and Watson and Cribb and Thackeray - packed with characters Dickens would have been proud of. Wonderful, well written' Time Out

Set in 1850s England, Marston's excellent new historical series features a Scotland Yard detective with attitude. Inspector Robert Colbeck tends to look down on local cops and tells them so. When well-organized thieves derail and rob a train of gold and mail, Colbeck is in his element. Only insiders would know schedules and amounts, and the safe required two separate keys, so Colbeck targets post office, bank, and mint employees. As with his Elizabethan and medieval mysteries (e.g., The Vagabond Clown; The Bawdy Basket), Marston fuses realistic time, place, and events with believable protagonists. Strongly recommended. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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