Murder on the Christmas Express – Alexandra Benedict

Published By: Simon and Schuster
Pages: 352
Released On: 10/11/2022

Eighteen passengers. Seven stops. One killer.

In the early hours of Christmas Eve, the sleeper train to the Highlands is derailed, along with the festive plans of its travellers. With the train stuck in snow in the middle of nowhere, a killer stalks its carriages, picking off passengers one by one. Those who sleep on the sleeper train may never wake again.

Can former Met detective Roz Parker find the killer before they kill again? All aboard for… murder on the Christmas Express.

*****

Thanks to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster for the advanced copy of this title in return for an honest review.

I absolutely loved her book “The Christmas Murder Game” and it was one of my favourite books last year, so I confess I audibly squealed when I saw she had written a new one.

I know it’s obvious, but I love the nod to Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express”. In fact, I compared her first book to Christie before, and she’s definitely done it again.

There’s a great cast of characters; enough to keep it interesting and keep you on your toes, but there’s not so many that you can’t focus on them. Our characters include our protagonist Roz, her daughter And daughter-in-law Heather and Ellie, and then quizzers Beck, Sam, Blake and Ayana, the influencer Meg and her boyfriend Grant, the lawyer Craig, Mary and her son Tony, Phil and Sally with their older children Aidan and Liv and then Ember, Beefy, Nick, Oli and Bella……I think I’ve got them all. I’ll be annoyed if I’ve missed one.

You usually have an inkling as to who the killer is in a murder mystery, maybe two or three, but you will have an idea. I had zero idea with this. Every time I thought I knew, it would change. It literally could have been any of them and that’s what kept me interested. And whilst it could have been anyone, there were a few characters for whom I just couldn’t imagine being the baddy because they were so lovely.

I know I’ve said it repeatedly but it has got Agatha Christie written all over it. A stupendous murder mystery. Usually I would say I’d have preferred for the murder and investigation to be earlier on – whereas in this it doesn’t fully kick off until halfway – but it works. It gives us enough time to get absorbed into the characters’ lives and provides a basis for the red herrings a good murder mystery needs. As you would expect from the genre, it’s full of surprises, shocks and twists, some so expertly hidden you’ll never see it coming.

Like her previous book, there is a little quiz question at the start of the book, and if you do what she asks you to, you could possibly win a prize. I did complete this and let her know that I had the answer, but as I’ve had an advantage by receiving an early copy. I won’t enter the draw. But there’s nothing stopping you.

A murder mystery is not a good advert for a sleeper train, but I’ve always wanted to go on one, especially if beautiful Scotland was the destination.

Yes, it’s an entertainment piece, obviously, but it does cover some incredibly tough subjects (of which I won’t go into for fear of spoilers). It was so good I read it in one sitting, so desperate to find out who had done it.

If you want to know how to write a good murder mystery, you could do a lot worse than reading Alexandra’s work. She’s taken what Agatha Christie perfected and expanded it, sticking to classic genre regimes but bringing it into modern times. It’s a lovely combination of the old and the new and proves that a well written mystery book will appeal in every age.

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