'A brilliant murder mystery set in Edwardian London about a railway line that runs only to a massive cemetery.' Daily Mirror
When railwayman Jim Stringer moves to the garish and tawdry London of 1903, he finds his duties are confined to a mysterious graveyard line. The men he works alongside have formed an instant loathing for him - and his predecessor has disappeared under suspicious circumstances. Can Jim work out what is going on before he too is travelling on a one-way coffin ticket aboard the Necropolis Railway?
'Guaranteed to make the flesh creep and the skin crawl, a masterful novel about a mad, clanking, fog-bound world.' Simon Winchester
'A murderous conspiracy of a plot graced with style, wit and the sharp, true taste of a time gone by ... So beautifully nuanced and so effortlessly pleasurable to read that you almost want to keep it a personal secret.' Independent on Sunday
First published in the U.K. in 2002, Martin's U.S. debut offers smooth prose, but suffers from its callow, 19-year-old protagonist, Jim Stringer. In 1903, Stringer leaves York for London to make something of himself on the railway, a consuming passion of his for years. Despite his letter of reference from a director of the London and South Western Railway, Stringer receives a hostile reception at Necropolis Railway and is soon delegated to dirty scut work connected with the transport of coffins to nearby cemeteries. When he learns his predecessor mysteriously disappeared, Stringer pursues an amateur investigation that turns dangerous after several people turn up dead. Basil Copper made better use of the creepy, atmospheric Necropolis Railway setting in his 1980 novel, Necropolis, and the almost impossibly na ve Stringer stumbles on the truth rather than displaying genuine cleverness.
Impressive Historical Detective Fiction
Although this crime story is set in 1903-1904, it is very Dickensian (think Our Mutual Friend). It's full of rich detail about the times and railroads of the day as well as having a good detective story in it. Very fun to read. The darkness and poverty in and around the train yards was very well researched and completely believable. The idea of a "necropolis railway"--Wow. Quirky and perfect for this story.