Andrew Martin’s Jim Stringer mystery series has an element of steam punk about it, with its early 1900s railway settings. The first book is The Necropolis Railway, which introduces the character of Jim Stringer, a nineteen year old who will do whatever it takes to make real his dream to be an engine driver.
Jim lands a job at Waterloo Station as a cleaner, two steps away from engine driver, but when he starts asking too many questions, no one will talk to him. It seems the previous cleaner, Henry Taylor, has disappeared suspiciously. And there are some weird goings-on down the graveyard line, a special service to the cemetery and Jim can’t keep his curiosity in check.
Jim’s snooping leads to a few narrow escapes – someone it seems has an eye on him. What’s more, his digs are miserable, with a leaking roof and no cocoa. Thank goodness his lovely landlady offers some hope for romance or he would chuck in the job and head back to the seaside northern town he hails from and a job in his dad’s butchery business. Luckily for us, he’s a plucky young lad, determined to get to the bottom of things.
The Necropolis Railway is a brilliant read with wonderful characters and plenty of lively dialogue that lets them breathe on the page. The atmospheric setting of Waterloo Station is graphically described with all its noise, soot and wintry bleakness. Jim is a terrific narrator, resourceful and with a dry, northern sense of humour – he’ll be a joy to meet again in the other books in the series – at last count there were eight!
Posted by JAM
Catalogue Link: The Necropolis Railway
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