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Martin, Andrew - 'The Last Train to Scarborough'
Hardback: 320 pages (Mar. 2009) Publisher: Faber and Faber ISBN: 0571229697

It is 1914 and Detective Sergeant Jim Stringer of the railway police is contemplating a career change to solicitor's clerk, pushed very much by his wife Lydia. His boss, Chief Inspector Saul Wetherill however has a final case for him. A railway fireman from Leeds went missing from a Scarborough guest house called Paradise a few months ago.

Jim visits the guest house disguised as a railway fireman together with a friend of his boss, an engine driver Tommy Nugent. At the Scarborough guest house he meets the striking owner Amanda Rickerby, her backward brother Adam and two guests - Theodore Vaughan and Howard Fielding. Can Jim find out what happened to the missing man Ray Blackburn?

This is the sixth book featuring Jim Stringer and there is a possibility that this storyline is running out of steam. It's not helped by the author's deliberate style which goes into infinite detail about the most mundane things. I suppose not surprising when the author has recently published a book extolling the virtues of ironing, dusting and other household arts.

As the mystery unravels it builds up the excitement and relationship-wise, it is fascinating because, while Jim is attracted to the beautiful Amanda, he is also in thrall to his women's emancipation champion of a wife. If this was a modern story Lydia would probably be the main character. There is also a teasing relationship between Lydia and a local landowner. The railway and period details are well researched and you will want to find out what happens to Jim. Given the date, will the next Jim Stringer novel, if there is one, be set in the First World War?

Geoff Jones, England
May 2009

Details of the author's other books with links to reviews can be found on the Books page.
More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 14/11/2010 11:24