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The Railway Detective - Edward Marston

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In theory The Railway Detective by Edward Marston should have been a really good book. 1851, the Great Exhibition being planned, lots of Victorian history etc. The London to Birmingham mail train is robbed and then derailed on purpose and Inspector Robert Colbeck and his sidekick are called in to investigate. It promises all sorts on the cover - murky 1850s London, historical detail, unexpected twists and turns, memorable characters. But does it deliver? Nope. I was bored rigid by it, struggled to get to the end in fact. For starters there was no deep sense of place and time whatsoever, could have been *any* time. Then you found out who the culprit was halfway through, which can be okay if the author can keep you interested in *how* the villain is caught. Sadly, Marston didn't manage it. And I hate it when the hero is perfect with no flaws. The good Inspector is one such, I almost felt the author was Mary-Sueing (or the male equivilent) because he was tall dark and handsome, dressed beautifully and, most annoyingly for me, had 2007 sensibilities. It wasn't even good writing, the dialogue was stilted, he overused the word 'that' (one of the very first things [that] I was told not to do when I started writing fanfic) and the text was riddled with typos. But I must be in a minority because this is a prolific author. This is his fourth series and the other three have many books to their name so someone must be buying his work or his publishers wouldn't continue to publish him. It's hard not to be annoyed, partly because I spent good money on it but also I have people on my flist whose writing is far superior to this and who would give their right arm to be a published author. One for the charity shop I fancy. And I need a 'Don't buy this rubbish' icon...

Comments

Wow! It must have been *very* bad - I don't remember you being so scatching about any book before! *makes note to avoid this author* :D
It was such a missed opportunity, imo. It could have been decent as there was nothing wrong with the plot idea, it was just abysmally executed. Yes, do yourself a favour and don't bother with this one.
Duh - make that *scathing* :-/
*g* I thought it was a local word I'd not heard before. ;-)
'Wooden' doesn't even begin to describe his other books. I love historical mysteries (read very few mysteries that aren't historical) so my tolerance level is fairly high, but I couldn't make any headway with Marston. I was sorry to see that he was tackling the Victorian period. The competition there is fairly stiff, I'd have thought.
So you've tried him too... I'm so glad it's not just me. It was the ridiculous stuff that made me want to chuck it across the room... things like making his working class sidekick sound far too posh; giving a train driver a servant (though that may be correct as I'm no expert - it just felt wrong somehow); giving us huge diatribes on The Great Exhibition to prove how much research he'd done. The mystery is, why did I bother to finish it!!

I think the problem is that Conan Doyle cornered the market in Victorian crime but there must be others out there that are good. Someone recced Anne Perry to me once so I must try her - I've got one here on the tbr pile, so I must get to it.

(read very few mysteries that aren't historical)

Yes, same here... I'm not a reader of modern crime at all unless it has something unusual about it such as McCall Smith's Ladies' Detective Agency books. And to be honest, I don't really think of those as proper crime books anyway.
Given his academic background, he ought to be able to do the research. Perhaps that's the problem. He's interested in the subject matter but he can't make it live for the reader. Or not for this reader.

I read modern crime fiction, but only if it's character-driven (and I like the characters). I'm not interested in the mystery; I always look at the end first. :D
I almost felt the author was Mary-Sueing (or the male equivilent)
I think that's called Gary Stu. And I hate I as well. A good hero has to have some flaws.
I think that's called Gary Stu.

Thank you! :-)

Not just heroes but we all have flaws and in books, perfect heroes are just not interesting.
perfect heroes are just not interesting.
That's so true. No one is perfect and I don't think that any characters should be.