Marston, Edward - 'The Railway Detective' (Unabridged Audiobook) read by Simon Prebble
THE RAILWAY DETECTIVE is the first in a new series which features DI Robert Colbeck of Scotland Yard.
Set in 1851, Colbeck is called in to investigate when the London to Birmingham mail train is first robbed and then derailed. In a precision attack the robbers got away with gold coins worth thousands of pounds as well as all the letters. The engine driver, Caleb Andrews puts up a fight and is badly beaten for his efforts.
Colbeck and his sergeant Victor Leeming have to first discover how the valuables were so easily obtained when two separate keys and a secure password were required to open the Chubb safe. They have to find the source of the leaks at the Post Office, the Royal Mint and the Chubb Factory in Wolverhampton.
In addition Colbeck is charmed to meet Caleb Andrews daughter Madeleine when she comes to Scotland Yard for a progress report. There is an instant attraction between them and this connection is later exploited by the 'bad guys', when they realise that Colbeck is closing in on them.
Colbeck is a gentleman policeman, exquisitely dressed and well educated and inevitably at odds with his militarised superior Superintendent Tallis. It's his insight into the mind of the robbery organiser which allows the police to ultimately capture him. As well as a look at life in Victorian London including the goings on in the notorious den of iniquity, 'Devil's Acre', there is much easily digestible information on the development of the railway and its locomotives. Colbeck and Leeming are likeable characters and the plot is logically unravelled by Colbeck - the listener having an advantage over Colbeck as they know who's behind it all.
Simon Prebble's narration is excellent and though there aren't many, his female characters are especially good. I hope he'll be narrating the next book in the series, THE EXCURSION TRAIN, in due course.
Karen Meek, England