On the railway

On the Berlin-Baghdad railway
I thoroughly enjoyed Andrew Martin's thriller The Baghdad Railway Club. Baghdad Railway is the sixth in a series of mysteries featuring the railway detective, Jim Stringer. Baghdad Railway is the first that I've read. One really good thing about Martin's novels is that you don't need to have read the rest in order to be able to enjoy the current one you've picked up. A great incentive to start anywhere in the series.

Jim Stringer, invalided from the Western Front, is sent to Baghdad to make contact with an officer who thinks he has evidence that a fellow officer is a traitor. What could be more fun for a railway anorak? A change of scene, sand instead of trenches, and the, still unfinished, Berlin to Baghdad railway.

On arrival however Stringer finds that his contact has been murdered, the "traitor" proves to be an immensely likeable chap, who also loves trains, and then there's the femme fatale....

I loved this. Martin has a lovely laconic style, and there are lots of lightly humorous touches. The Iraq background is well described (reminded me of time I'd spent on the Hejaz Railway in Jordan). It does feel as though it owes a lot to Agatha Christie's They came to Baghdad, but for all that, it's a very different book.

The mystery itself is perhaps a little weak. This is not the best detective story you're ever going to read, but there's a great sense of place, some decent characterisation, and a story that grips you. Thoroughly enjoyable and a great way of lazing away an afternoon. Make room on your shelves for the rest of the Jim Stringer series.


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