Murder on the Christmas Express by Alexandra Bendict
Those who enjoy a murder mystery in a locked location (in this case, a derailed train).
In a nutshell:
Roz, retired Met police officer, is heading north on the sleeper train to be with her daughter, who is giving birth up in Scotland. Instead, she finds herself on a derailed train, with a possibly murdered influencer.
Why I chose it:
My partner and I don’t exchange gifts at Christmas, except for one book, that we open on Christmas eve. This was his gift to me this year.
What it left me feeling:
Entertained but also sad.
CN (and the author includes this at the start of the book): sexual assault and rape do factor into at least one storyline within this book. The author is a survivor herself, and takes care with the subject, but obviously its good to know that in case that is a deal breaker for readers.
After delays due to a snowstorm, the train gets going with a much smaller number of people on board. They include a team hoping to make it to a university quiz program; a family with four children; an older man, his elderly mother, and their cat; an attorney, a woman traveling alone, our main character, and an influencer / reality star couple. Roz, the main character, is desperate to get up to her daughter, who has gone into early labor. After a raucous evening in the bar car, the train derails, and someone is discovered dead.
Overall this was a book that was basically right up my alley. It takes place on what in real life is the Caledonia Sleeper train, which runs from London up to various points in Scotland. I’ve taken it twice myself, including a few months ago when we moved to Scotland and needed a safe way to move our cats too. The main character is Scottish, and the coziness (though eventual claustrophobia) of a train traveling through the mountains during a snowstorm is something I hope to experience – though without the derailment. And murder. But it also explores the very real and devastating impact of sexual assault. I know, not exactly a Christmas story, but I think the book does a decent job of it.
The main drawback for me is some of the author’s writing. She has interesting, well-developed characters, and when she’s focusing on telling the story, it is riveting, but also told with care given the subject manner. But she really wedges in some fairly overwritten metaphors that really pulled me out of the story. There aren’t a lot, but enough that it was noticeable.
Recommend to a Friend / Keep / Donate it / Toss it: