The Railway Detective by Edward Marston © 2004, Allison & Busby 2004 trade paperback – mystery – first in the Detective Inspector Colbeck series of Victorian railway-related mysteries
It is London 1851, and the opening of the Great Exposition is pending in London. It is the age of new marvels, one of which is the railroads. Interest is mounting in engineering projects and the trains have made travel faster for those with the price of a fare. New times call for new thinking, and thieves plan and conduct the first major railroad robbery, stopping and robbing the Birmingham mail train of mail and a shipment of gold coin. Planned with military precision, it is a difficult crime to solve for the man assigned to it, Detective Inspector Robert Colbeck.
Another crime, this time not for profit, leads the investigation in a new direction and it soon seems the railroads themselves are the target of a madman.
This is the first of what is now a seven book series by Marston, also the author of two other – perhaps three other – historical series, including the very good Domesday books and a series featuring an Elizabethan acting company.
Having read a brief review of a book later in the series, I decided to try this one. I liked it, a great deal. I already knew I liked Marston’s writing, but was surprised by how much I liked the character of Inspector Colbeck and the others in this novel. Really very well done, and I’ve ordered all the rest in the series.