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On the first day of the Somme enlisted railwayman Jim Stringer lies trapped in a shell hole, smoking cigarette after cigarette under the bullets and the blazing sun. He calculates his chances of survival—even before they departed for France, a member of Jim’s unit had been found dead. During the stand-off that follows, Jim and his comrades must operate by night the vitally important trains carrying munitions to the Front, through a ghostly landscape of shattered trees where high explosive and shrapnel shells rain down. Close co-operation and trust are vital. Yet proof piles up of an enemy within, and as a ferocious military policeman pursues his investigation into the original killing, the finger of accusation begins to point towards Jim himself…
It’s the sweltering summer of 1911, and one Friday evening a special train rolls into York station. It carries a young aristocrat recently found guilty of murdering his father in the sleepy village of Adenwold. He is briefly entrusted into the custody of railway detective Jim Stringer, and he warns of another murder likely to happen in the same village—that of his brother, a reclusive intellectual. Jim and his wife Lydia take the train along the near deserted branch line to Adenwold. Here they encounter a host of likely suspects and the intended victim, as Jim has one weekend in which to stop a murder and unravel a conspiracy of international dimensions.
December, 1909. A train hits a snow drift in the frozen Cleveland Hills. In the process of clearing the line a body is discovered, and so begins a dangerous case for struggling railway detective, Jim Stringer.
Jim Stringer’s new investigation takes him to the mighty blast furnaces of Ironopolis, to Fleet Street in the company of a cynical reporter from The Railway Rover, and to a nightmarish spot in the Highlands. Jim’s faltering career in the railway police hangs on whether he can solve the murder—but before long the pursuer becomes the pursued, and Jim finds himself fighting not just for his job, but for his very life as well.
The fourth in Andrew Martin’s widely celebrated “Steam detective” series.