And here we go again – after a couple hours looking for what might be a good Christmas-time murder mystery which was not too romancey or involved a non-murder type crime I found Murder on the Christmas Express by Alexandra Benedict. Ha!
Murder on the Christmas Express
by Alexandra Benedict
Read by Sophie Roberts 8h 21m
Rating: B+ / cozy with a retired detective (and triggers)
As much as I read (voraciously) it’s easy to come across very similar plotlines (see The Hunting Party https://mybecky.blog/2022/12/13/the-hunting-party-by-lucy-foley/ my last review). But where the murder in The Hunting Party doesn’t actually happen until the last chapter – (but is in a Prologue-type chapter), the first murder in Murder on the Christmas Express happens about 1/3 into the book.
And Murder on the Christmas Express was not at all what I was expecting. I suppose it is either a cozy or a genre fiction book but it’s also very much a who-done-it in the best of the tradition. It just has some added attractions – like rape – to the point that I have to make a warning about triggers because there are ways in which this book is very graphic.
That said it’s not exactly Christmasy but neither was The Hunting Party. Train passengers are traveling to the Scottish highlands on Christmas Eve. There are 9 in The Hunting Party and maybe 17 or 18 in Christmas Express. The passengers in Hunting Party are old friends, the passengers in Christmas Express are only loosely connected. There is no protagonist inThe Hunting Party but it has a number of 1st person narrators. The Christmas Express has a definite protagonist and might even possibly be the beginning of a series. The Hunting Party’s structure was confusing, the structure of The Christmas Express was far more straightforward with only a couple of twisty parts.
All that said, Christmas Express has a retired professional detective involved in a murder on a train which gets snowed in en route to Fort William in northern Scotland. Roz is on her way to be with her daughter at the birth of daughter’s first child. Also on the train are a relatively famous “influencer,” her partner, a school teacher, a tramp-like person, a married couple with a toddler and some college students. There are also a few staff members mixing things up.
I was much more involved in this book than I was in The Hunting Party. I can’t say as I loved it and the last couple chapters seemed a bit much, but it was almost what I have in mind when I look for holiday books.