Published by: Macmillan, Feb 2021
Holiday times are always a special time for reading and what better way to kickstart my Christmas with a review copy of the third 'Adventures on Trains' novel, courtesy of Netgalley.
The 'Adventures of Trains' series, launched early this year, has to be one of my reading highlights of 2020. Both The Highland Falcon Thief and Kidnap on the Californian Comet offered everything I loved in a book as a child and still love today - an easy read full of fun characters, thrilling mystery, adventure and high stakes. It is essentially 'Poirot' for kids with the extra dynamic of always being set on a train.
Although we are not specifically train fans in our family, 'Adventures on Trains' will undoubtedly peak your interest in the fascinating world of locomotives. M.G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman bring their love and enthusiasm of trains passionately to life in these stories, making them as much of a central focus as the mystery itself. Beautifully illustrated by Elisa Paganelli, these exquisite, trundling beasts are bound to find a place in your heart alongside the main characters.
The dynamics of this story stay very much the same as in the previous two books. Hal, an enthusiastic sketcher turned skilful detective, accompanies his laidback, travel writer Uncle on a journey through Africa. However, the stakes are raised significantly higher than the previous two books when an actual murder is committed and Hal, alongside his new friend Winston and mongoose Chipo, becomes determined to solve it.
This is without a doubt my favourite of the three 'Adventures on Trains' series and, with the other two being pretty fabulous, that is testament to the strength of the writing and plotting. I loved the vibrancy of the whole setting, the uncluttered cast and pace and the twisty, turny plot that had plenty of surprises but was not overly complicated.
This story, in my opinion, doesn't feel as busy as the other two. Although there are plenty of moments of tension, I really felt like I was chugging through the African wilderness on a rather empty train. The cast were brilliant as always, particularly Beryl, and there were some strong, impactful messages intertwined into the narrative. Hal's determination to use his talent at sketching to help solve the case provides another unique hook to a series that is already steaming full speed ahead into roaring success. This is a simply brilliant series and when I put the book down at about 4.30 am on Christmas morning (I had woken in the night for an hour determined to finish it) I felt disappointed that another adventure was over and I would have to leave the characters until Book 4, Danger at Dead Man's Pass, is published in September 2021.
A big thank you to Netgalley and Macmillan for making my Christmas by giving me the chance to review. Murder on the Safari Star is now available to pre-order and I highly recommend you check this series out.
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