Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Lost Luggage Porter by Andrew Martin

It's December 1905 and Jim Striger is starting his new job as a
detective for the North East Railway Company at the York office.
It's a job he doesn't want and he'd far rather be back on the
trains. His new boss decides to send him undercover to
investigate pickpockets and other small fry who have been
operating at the station. Yet events take a turn and Striger ends
up being dragged into the deep, murky underworld of York. As if
that wasn't enough, back home he's trying to keep the peace
between his heavily pregnant Suffragette wife and his deeply
conservative father. With a new addition of the family on the way
and a murderer on the loose Striger must find a way to keep the
peace, stay alive and not get fired.

Although this is the third book in the Jim Striger series I
thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Martin was very good at
explaining some of the background when needed (that
presumably readers of the first two books wouldn't need) without
lingering too long on it. I didn't feel penalised for not reading the
first two books and felt like I wanted to go back and find out a bit
more about what happened. It is great that a writer can do this.

The style of the book is somewhat different to what I'm used to.
Striger's character is a hard working Victorian/Edwardian middle
class kind of guy. He's old fashioned in our eyes but with
enough forward thinking ideas to make him interesting. He fits in
well with the time the book is set and occupies the space
between his wife's Suffragette views and his father's Victorian
value system. It's hard to explain but in a way Martin's text feels
slightly old fashioned in style, very in keeping with the story.

Striger is very uncomfortable in his new role and that comes
across well in the book. He's not sure how far he can go with his
'role' without breaking the law. Its all new territory for him, so
there is a struggle between his law abiding normal self and what
he needs to do for his alias to ring true. He's not your typical
detective. He's been thrown into the career rather than choosing
it and he often feels it's a punishment. Yet there are times when
he seems to be enjoying himself. The thrill he feels the first time
he goes undercover (before his conservative self asserts itself)
is just one example of this. There are times when he sounds like
a middle aged man but occasionally there are glimpses that
show that actually he's quite a young, intelligent man. He's a bit
world weary but naive all the same.

I would definitely recommend this to all those who like historical
crime fiction as something new and different (at least from
anything I've read). Well written and researched. I would
however suggest people might want to start with the first book in
this series, 'The Necropolis Railway'. You can enjoy 'Lost
Luggage Porter' without reading the previous two books though
so don't worry if you can't get hold of it. Worth reading if you like
Edward Marston's 'Railway Detective' series.

*4 stars*

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1 comment:

Mia said...

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a solution at www.globalbagtag.com