The Zephyr speeds across the West, Death deals the cards It's April 1953, and Zephyrette Jill McLeod is back on the rails, aboard the fabled train called the California Zephyr. Heading west from Chicago to the San Francisco Bay Area, Jill looks forward to reuniting with family members and the new man in her life. She’s learned to expect and deal with just about anything on the train, from troublesome passengers to long-lost relatives to high-stakes poker games. But the stakes just got even higher: Death has a seat at the table.
Set in 1953, Dawson's slow-moving follow-up to 2013's Death Rides the Zephyr finds Jill McLeod, who works as the classic train's Zephyrette, traveling west from Chicago through the Rockies toward the San Francisco Bay Area. As the only female crew member, McLeod has many duties, such as administering first aid, greeting passengers, and keeping them up-to-date on the train's progress as well as the history of the areas the train passes through. The plot, which highlights day-to-day life aboard the train, doesn't pick up steam until the last third of the book, at which point the focus is on the shooting murder of the unpleasant Mr. Fontana, a former Chicago bootlegger. McLeod must learn who had motive to kill Fontana and to frame her black sheep cousin, Doug Cleary, by planting the murder weapon in his berth. Rail enthusiasts will welcome this light mystery full of information about train travel of an earlier era.