The Iron Horse

The Iron Horse by Edward Marston.  Fans of the “Railroad Detective” Robert Colbeck might be a bit disappointed by this volume in the series.  Except for the initial discovery of a severed head at the Crewe station, almost none of the story has any relation to railroads at all.  Instead, most of the action takes place surrounding the Derby at Epsom Downs, making this a better fit for readers of Dick Francis.  As further threats to the three favorites in the race occur, the elegant Colbeck, with the assistance of his dependable Sergeant Lemming and charming belle Madeleine Andrews, slowly untangle the clues which lead to the eventual capture of the culprit.  For much of the story we seem to go in circles, like horses around a track, as each unlikable thoroughbred owner is exposed as a liar with a motive to do the other two harm.  Marston is a talented writer and I especially enjoy his Nicholas Bracewell series set in the world of Elizabethan theater and the Domesday Books set in the late 11th century, but newcomers to this series would be better served by any of the previous three entries.

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