When a body is discovered in a locked toilet cubicle on the late-night train to Bath, Ishmael Jones is faced with his most puzzling case to date.
When Ishmael Jones and his partner Penny are asked to escort a VIP on the late-night train to Bath, it would appear to be a routine case. The Organisation has acquired intelligence that an attempt is to be made on Sir Dennis Gregson’s life as he travels to Bath to take up his new position as Head of the British Psychic Weapons Division. Ishmael’s mission is to ensure that Sir Dennis arrives safely.
How could anyone orchestrate a murder in a crowded railway carriage without being noticed and with no obvious means of escape? When a body is discovered in a locked toilet cubicle, Ishmael Jones has just 56 minutes to solve a seemingly impossible crime before the train reaches its destination.
Title: Night Train to Murder | Author: Simon R. Green | Publisher: Severn House Publishers; First World Publication edition | Pub. Date: 3 March 2020 | Pages: 304 | ISBN-13: 978-0727889171 | Genre: SciFi Mystery | Language: English | Triggers: None | Source: Review copy provided by the publisher l Unstarred Review
Night Train to Murder Review
Ishmael Jones isn’t your typical detective. He’s the sole survivor of his alien starship after a crash which left him stranded on Earth. The ship’s transformation machine converted into an adult male human being, and now he works as a detective for an underground group called the Organization whose sole purpose is to keep civilization in the dark regarding the monsters walking amongst them.
Ishmael and his partner Penny Belcourt are assigned an undercover security job keeping watch over a politician as he rides the night train to his new job, Head of the British Psychic Weapons Division. As you can probably guess from the title, the man they are hired to watch ends up murdered, and Ishmael and Penny must solve the case.
The premise is solid, and interesting enough for me to pick up the book. When we discovered the murdered man, the means in which he was killed, as well as the murder location, my interest was tickled. Those items, along with an alien detective, should have catapulted this mystery into a high action thriller. However, this book is a slow paced and lacks tension.
Once the murder happens, things become a bit redundant and, unfortunately, boring. Ishmael interviews the suspects a few times, spends a lot of time contemplating the events of the night, and occasionally chats with Penny, but there really isn’t a lot of meat to sink your teeth into. We learn about the suspects’ personal lives, which didn’t really garner much sympathy from me despite some rather sad backstories. There’s a bit of action, but not enough to keep me fully engaged.
The dialogue was also problematic. The characters seemed to be talking more to the reader than to each other. They asked too many questions, telling the reader too much information rather than let us figure it out for ourselves. Because of this, conversations seemed forced, information repetitive and overall unrealistic.
I also struggled to connect with Penny. What was her purpose, other than to be the occasional sounding board for Ishmael? She had a role towards the end, but I wonder if her character was even necessary. She seemed more concerned with reading a magazine on the train then solving a mystery.
However, I still find the idea of an undercover detective alien stuck on Earth to be a fun concept. This book is part of a larger series, and while this particular story didn’t work for me, I look forward to giving the series, and Ishmael, another chance.
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