When a body is discovered in a locked toilet cubicle on the late-night train to Bath, Ishmael Jones is faced with his most puzzling case to date.
When Ishmael Jones and his partner Penny are asked to escort a VIP on the late-night train to Bath, it would appear to be a routine case. The Organisation has acquired intelligence that an attempt is to be made on Sir Dennis Gregson’s life as he travels to Bath to take up his new position as Head of the British Psychic Weapons Division. Ishmael’s mission is to ensure that Sir Dennis arrives safely.
How could anyone orchestrate a murder in a crowded railway carriage without being noticed and with no obvious means of escape? When a body is discovered in a locked toilet cubicle, Ishmael Jones has just 56 minutes to solve a seemingly impossible crime before the train reaches its destination.
Author: Simon R. Green
Publisher: Severn House Publishers
Release Date: 29/11/2019
My Chosen Format: Kindle
My Rating of ‘Night Train To Murder’: 2 out of 5
I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
The concept of Ishmael Jones is one of the more interesting ones I have come across in my reading. What’s not to like about the idea of an alien having assimilated himself into our culture and turning his skills to the work of stopping crime?
I went into this one with high hopes and, despite the world’s worst attempt at writing dialogue by any one author and some incredibly stereotypical, over the top cliche characters, the first half or so was fairly enjoyable.
Going back to the bad points mentioned above … the dialogue reads like it’s being written by a man who not only has never had a real conversation with another person, but has simply guessed at what they sound like rather than witnessing one firsthand. It just read wooden and fake and really took me out of the whole reading experience as, for the first time in my reading life, a book challenged me not to suspend my disbelief, but to suspend any notion of intelligence I thought I had. That may seem overly harsh … but I’ll explain:
I really don’t get the point of Penny. She works for the government along with Ishmael and seems so incompetent that her job would come under serious threat if a seven year-old challenged her for her job. I mean, honestly … the woman is tasked with making sure a man does not die on the train. So, instead of watching him, she decides that her time would be better spent reading a magazine. In fact, one of her great problems in the whole novel is finding a magazine to take on the train with her. Replace her with a potted plant and you’d treble efficiency. Pretty much any time she featured on the page, whether it was her out-dated dialogue or her pointlessness, it just felt anger-inducing.
Then there’s the fact that Ishmael will spend a good period of time deciding against a course of action, only to inexplicably do said course or action on the next page without any reasoning as to why he went against something he was certain was a terrible idea two minutes ago.
Also, ignore the whole ’56 minutes to solve a murder’ malarkey. Every time Ishmael gives a time update, the amount of time elapsed compared to the things he did in said time is borderline impossible. So it just seems like a pointless little add-on to make it seem more like a thriller than it actually is.
The characters that are classed as primary suspects spend pretty much any and all page time they are given acting like over the top spoiled children who treat greed, selfishness and pure spite like it’s going out of fashion and really is something that not only needs to be given out for free, but shoved down the reader’s throat. I couldn’t help but wish they were all guilty purely because of the utter hatred I developed for them. The bodyguard wasn’t much better. A trained military man with years of service and he walks around with the attitude of an angry toddler that has been told ‘no’ and doesn’t like the fact. For someone with his experience, the flagrant breaching of standard policy just smacks of bad storytelling.
I also found that the effort I had to put in to take any of the characters seriously was far too much. It felt like a gym session of the mind and, sadly, my mental muscles weren’t up to the task. I found that I just couldn’t take any of them seriously or care at all for them.
I also saw a lot of reviews raving about the twist at the end … if by twist you mean ‘the author wrote himself an ending that made the whole of the novel pointless, redundant and just a big old waste of time then … yea … stunning.
I know that a lot of people who have read this adore it, and each of them will no doubt think I am being unreasonable. But I challenge anyone to re-read this and not notice any of the things I have mentioned. The only reason I gave this a 2 rather than a 1 is that it is an easy read that, if you can switch your mind off, is kind of fun.
Deathstalker by Simon R. Green was one of my favourite series growing up so I was very excited to try this. Now, after finishing, I have decided to postpone my Deathstalker re-read in case older me smashes through the enjoyment younger me had of that series.