Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Books I'm Reading: The Jim Stringer Mysteries by Andrew Martin

I'm not a fan of mysteries. Most mysteries seem hopelessly contrived. Usually my reaction to reading or trying to read one is annoyance, but Andrew Martin's Jim Stringer--a reluctant detective who really wants to be a steam locomotive driver--was a pleasure to follow through the four Jim Stringer mysteries so far published. The last one (Murder at Deviation Junction) first appeared in 2007, however, which makes me wonder if there will be more. I hope there are. Martin has captured the mood of his chosen setting (England in the early 1900s) so masterfully that reading the books feels like time travel--with a railway-obsessed young man as Cicerone. The heavy use of railway jargon, particularly in the first book (The Necropolis Railway), is confusing at first, but once you get used to Jim Stringer's language and settle in to the backstage railway world he inhabits, the stories are compelling.

[Update: After writing this, I discovered there are several more in the series, but they were published only in Britain. Jim Stringer doesn't seem to have gained an audience in the US, which simply shows that too many Americans have no taste. I wrote Mr. Martin a letter telling him how much I enjoyed the books. He actually wrote me back. He was very pleased to learn that at least somebody in the US appreciated his work (although I'm certainly not entirely alone).]

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