Cover detail of Murder on the Christmas Express by Alexandra Benedict

Murder on the Christmas Express by Alexandra Benedict

Welcome to Day 8 of #12booksofChristmas. In case you have missed any of the previous titles, I have listed them below:

Today's book was a perfect read when I was suffering from a cold. A modern day retelling of Murder on the Orient Express with a journey on the sleeper train from London to Fort William during a terrible snowstorm. It had an interesting modern take on it. I have to confess a journey on a sleeper train is a bit of a bucket list item for me. I love the idea of being rocked to sleep whilst the train makes its way through the country, or people-watching in the dining car. But we need to talk all things quizzing! Let's find out why shall we?

The Plot

In the early hours of Christmas Eve, the sleeper train to the Highlands is derailed, along with the festive plans of its travellers. But that is only the beginning of their problems. When the body of one of the passengers is discovered in the locked room of her cabin, all the evidence points to murder. With the train stuck in the snow in the middle of nowhere, it's up to former Met Detective Roz Parker to find the killer before they strike again.
But as the countdown to Christmas and their rescue begins, Roz discovers that there are many secrets on board the train - and many more passages with motives for murder.

My Thoughts

As I said in my blurb this is a modern version of Murder on the Orient Express but with significant differences. The setting is modern, the investigator is not a pernickity Belgian detective with an egg-shaped head, but a retired DI who bears a resemblance to Kate Bush and who is struggling to cope with a difficult past.

And we feel for poor Roz, as she is travelling to Scotland to join her daughter who is in a difficult labour with her first child. As things go from bad to worse, Roz is desperate to get to her daughter and reflects on their troubled relationship.

The travellers are an eclectic bunch. A university quizzing team competing with other for a place on a TV show, a social media influencer whose life is not as happy as she broadcasts for her followers, a family whose husband and wife are barely speaking. All conspire to provide us with a plethora of suspects. Even the train's staff come under suspicion.

And then things really do go wrong, a derailment in a remote part of Scotland and the discovery of a body behind a locked door. Suspects are interviewed and people lie, confuse and befuddle.

This would make the perfect wintery crime, and then Alexandra Benedict gives us a little Christmas present. 2 quizzes hidden within the story - hunt the anagram of railway themed stories and poems, and hunt the Kate Bush song titles! There is also a fiendish, Christmas quiz at the back. You can choose to do this, or not but if you have anyone in your family who is a quizzer they will definitely enjoy this.

And so in conclusion, we have a great crime story, a likeable investigator and a nod or two to Agatha Christie. What is not to love!