Murder at Deviation Junction continues Andrew Martin's railway murder series with a rip-roaring and atmospheric mystery loaded with fire, steam and snow. It is 1908 when railway detective, Jim Stringer, is sent to arrest a steelworker but stumbles across a body when his train is delayed by a snow drift. It belongs to a young photographer who disappeared a year before, so this is a cold case in more ways than one.
Jim soon discovers that the deceased was interested in the Cleveland Travelling Club - a group of prosperous businessmen who travelled to work together in their own luxury carriage. But when Jim sets out to talk to its members, he discovers that a number of them have died in mysterious circumstances.
The novel steams along with plenty of action, as Jim travels the length of Britain, including the furthest reaches of the railways in Scotland, with some close calls with a violent adversary. There's also a fair dollop of humour in the Yorkshire banter Jim enjoys with his quirky co-worers, though not with peevish Sergeant Shillito who wants to take Jim down a peg or two.
Overall this is a fairly light read, but you can't help but admire the way Martin recreates the steam age, as well as the social conditions of the time. Jim's wife is a feisty character with interests in women's rights and there are hints that an overhaul of the class system is not far off. Of course we know that World War One is just a few years away, but we will have to wait for later in the series to discover how it will affect our intrepid detective.
Posted by JAM
Catalogue Link: Murder at Deviation Junction