'A steamy whodunnit . . . This may well be the best fiction about the railways since Dickens.' Independent on Sunday
'Genuinely gripping . . . The sort of thing D. H. Lawrence might have written had he been less verbose or been blessed with a sense of humour.' Peter Parker, Evening Standard (Books of the Year)
A superbly atmospheric thriller of sabotage, suspicion and steam, The Blackpool Highflyer brings a new twist to tales of Edwardian England and amateur sleuthing. Assigned to drive holidaymakers to the seaside resort of Blackpool in the hot summer of 1905, Jim Stringer is happy to have left behind the grime and danger of life in London. But his dreams of beer and pretty women are soon shattered - when his high-speed train meets a huge millstone on the line . . .
'A clear winner in literary crime writing . . . Dazzling attention to detail and quality writing from one of our best contemporary male novelists.' Daily Express
Set in 1905, Martin's second Jim Stringer mystery (after 2004's The Necropolis Railway) starts slowly but builds a head of steam like the monster locomotive Jim stokes for "Lanky," the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway. A passenger dies when a huge grindstone on the tracks derails a train carrying the owner of Hind's Mill on an excursion to seaside Blackpool. Jim begins to suspect class warfare when a young socialist distributes tracts in Jim's hometown of Halifax, urging workers to shun holidays organized by mill owners. A fallen tree on another rail line further suggests conspiracy, as does the disappearance of smartly dressed Clive, the engine driver on Jim's next run. Lanky management's paltry 5 reward hardly seems likely to garner much information, so newlywed Jim turns to comely Lydia, a mill clerk he simply calls "the wife," for much needed help. Getting used to Jim's chatty Cockney narration takes time, but as the suspense rises, readers will be captivated.