Cover image for The railway detective
The railway detective
Marston, Edward.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
London : Allison & Busby, 2004.
Physical Description:
261 pages : 23 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
FICTION Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



In 1851 England, the London to Birmingham mail train is robbed and derailed, injuring the driver and others aboard. However, further investigation proves the seemingly simple robbery to have been impossible. Inspector Robert Colbeck knows this is a case that won't be easily solved. He is faced with the question of how the robbers got into a safe with two keys that were secure at opposite sides of the country. To get to the bottom of the mystery, he enlists the aid of volatile former policeman Brendan Mulryne behind his Superintendent's back to search out the criminals in the notorious Devil's Acre, a cluster of gambling dens in the shadow of Westminster Abbey. However, it may turn out that Mulryne can create more trouble than he can cure. Things get even more complicated as the beautiful daughter of the injured train driver, Madeleine Andrews, comes to Colbeck to provide information, unwittingly drawing the attentions of the crooks. When prime suspects begin to disappear and he learns that there was more than just money on the train, Colbeck realizes that he is dealing with the most driven and powerful criminal he has faced in his career. As the very citizens he is trying to protect begin to be affected by this mastermind, Colbeck must join Mulryne in a race against time before all the evidence is efficiently blown away. The Railway Detective is an action-packed dip into murky 1850s London. Full of twists and with memorable characters, this is a mystery that will surprise you at every turn.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

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. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

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. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.