Series: The Railway Detective #9
Genres: Historical Mystery
Published by Allison & Busby on 15 July 2013
Detective Inspector Robert Colbeck and his side-kick Sergeant Victor Lemming are at it again. Exeter St David’s respected stationmaster, Mr Joel Heygate, has been murdered and his body burned accidentally as part of Guy Fawkes Night celebrations. Robert needs to bring the killer to justice swiftly so he can get back to London and marry his patient fiancé Madeleine.
Robert and Victor are binary opposites – Robert is cultured, educated and well-dressed while Victor has the face of a thug and is decidedly working class. They make a formidable team however when their boss, Superintendent Tallis isn’t interfering. Robert is fairly well rounded but unfortunately Victor and Tallis are fairly two dimensional as Victor hates being away from his family for any length of time and Tallis favours the job over domestic bliss. It was amusing the first few times it was brought up but we’ve seen the disagreements play out over every novel now and I’m getting a bit tired of it.
Cui bono? Joel’s brother Michael is in financial straits and expects to be named the sole heir. There’s a petty crim named Bagsy Browne who was angry with Joel and has a tendency to get violent and finally Lawrence Woodford who wants the stationmaster’s job. Normally I’m pretty good at working out whodunnit but in this case, the big reveal was a surprise. Vague clues were there all along but I didn’t see it. In my defence Robert and Victor didn’t work it out either as they just stumbled across the answer. I like my detectives to figure it out so the ending was a little bit of a let down.
There is a side story with Madeleine’s father courting a woman and getting entangled in sibling jealousy. It was amusing but didn’t really go anywhere. I missed the old Madeleine as we primarily see her passively waiting for Robert to remember he has a fiancé and worrying that her father will be taken advantage of. These are natural concerns of course but she is capable of more and we have seen her do so much more in other novels.
It’s a solid historical mystery and I wish you well in working out the villain of the piece as I was flatly flummoxed.