The Blackpool Highflyer by Andrew Martin is the second Jim Stringer adventure, a superbly atmospheric thriller of sabotage, suspicion and steam.
Andrew Martin, a former Spectator Young Writer of the Year, grew up in Yorkshire. After qualifying as a barrister he became a freelance journalist in which capacity he has tended to write about the north, class, trains, seaside towns and eccentric individuals rather than the doings of the famous, although he did once loop the loop in a biplane with Gary Numan. He has also learned to drive steam locomotives, albeit under very close supervision. He has written for the Guardian, the Daily Telegraph, the Independent on Sunday and Granta, among many other publications, and his weekly column appears in the New Statesman.
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 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. (July) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
"'Genuinely gripping... A brilliant evocation of Edwardian working-class life - 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 'Evokes Edwardian Yorkshire and Lancashire, their great industrial prosperity and singular ways of living, quite brilliantly in a historical whodunnit which for its fresh and stealthy approach to past times deserves the adjective Bainbridgean.' Ian Jack, Guardian (Books of the Year) 'A steamy whodunnit... This may well be the best fiction about the railways since Dickens.' Michael Williams, Independent on Sunday 'Unique and important... There is no one else who is writing like Andrew Martin today.' Ian Marchant, Guardian"
When an excursion to the English coast goes awry, train conductor Stringer and wife go detecting full speed ahead in the second of this Edwardian series. Martin lives in London. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.