R is for Railway

Monet’s “Le Gare Saint Lazare”

Maybe it’s a remnant of our Wild West, frontier heritage, but I’ve always thought rail travel was fascinatingly romantic. And, unlike those in big cities, my idea of traveling with strangers in an enclosed place isn’t colored by the trials of the subway. Currently, I’m reading the newest Alexander McCall Smith novella, Trains and Lovers, which made me curious about other novels with significant action taking place in a railcar. There are several mysteries – primary among them Agatha Christie’s classic closed room case – but I was surprised not to see a greater number of other types of novels. Maybe reading one of these will inspire someone to write more about journeys by rail. Until then, “All Aboard!”


Andean Express – Juan de Recacoechea

  • Richardo finds himself involved in the revenge and murder plots of the passengers on board a train going from Bolivia to Chile, including a fellow student married to an older man she detests.


Breakheart Pass – MacLean

  • After the Civil War, an army relief train takes supplies to an Indian fort, and its passengers suffer mysterious accidents.


The Christmas Train – David Baldacci

  • Tom Langdon, a weary and cash-strapped journalist, is banned from flying when a particularly thorough airport security search causes him to lose his cool. Now, he must take the train if he has any chance of arriving in Los Angeles in time for Christmas with his girlfriend.


Dream Train – Charlotte Vale Allen

  • In accepting an assignment to ride the Orient Express and spend five days in Venice, photojournalist Joanna James begins a dramatic journey in which lasting friendships are made, hearts are broken, and love is found.


The Edge – Dick Francis

  • Tor Kelsey, an undercover security operative for the British Jockey Club, is assigned to protect guests on “The Great Transcontinental Mystery Race Train,” individuals whose safety is imperiled by real-life murder and mayhem.


The Five-Forty-Five to Cannes – Tess Uriza Holthe

  • Set against the backdrop of the French Riviera and Italy, a collection of interconnected stories follows group of characters whose lives are linked by the 5:45 train to Cannes.


Ladies Coupe – Anita Nair

  • During a journey Akhila shares a sleeping car, the Ladies’ Coupe, with other women, and as they recount their life stories, she wonders whether her own life as a single woman has been complete.


Murder Express – Robert Scott

  • On his honeymoon trip aboard a cross-country train from Vancouver to Calgary, former police officer Jack Elton and his new bride, Valerie, investigate into the death of a passenger whose body was found in the bathroom.


Murder on the Orient Express – Agatha Christie

  • On a three-day journey through the snowbound Balkan hills, Hercule Poirot must weed through an array of international suspects to find the passenger who murdered a gangster on the Orient Express.


The Mystery of the Blue Train – Agatha Christie

  • When Miss Katherine Grey unexpectedly inherits a small fortune, she books the famous Blue Train for a trip to the French Riviera. But Nice is not so nice, for on arrival the gendarmerie asks Miss Grey to ID the strangled body of one of the pampered passengers–and for the great Hercule Poirot’s help in solving the crime.


The Necropolis Railway – Andrew Martin

  • Moving to London in 1903 in his endeavor to become a railway man, ambitious young Jim Stringer takes a graveyard shift moving coffins to cemeteries outside of the city and struggles with his predecessor’s untimely disappearance and his co-worker’s unsettling animosity.


Robert B. Parker’s Ironhorse – Robert Knott

  • Territorial Marshalls Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch are escorting a group of Mexican prisoners on a train trip to the border only to find the journey complicated by the Governor of Texas and a vengeful outlaw from Virgil’s past.


Stamboul Train – Graham Greene

  • A variety of passengers, including a chorus girl, a journalist, and a kindly doctor, on a train from Ostend to Constantinople become involved with the sly murderer, Josef Grunlich.


The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 – John Godey

  • Four ruthless gunmen hold a speeding New York subway train hostage for a hefty ransom, threatening to kill all the passengers on board.


Trains and Lovers – Alexander McCall Smith

  • Inspired by a love of trains and the nature of love, a series of intertwined romantic tales follows the experiences of four strangers traveling from Edinburgh to London who entertain each other with reminiscences about how trains have changed their lives.


Travels with My Aunt – Graham Greene

  • Henry Pulling, a retired manager, volunteers to accompany his aunt on a trip to Istanbul and soon becomes involved with an ill-assorted group of travelers on the Orient Express.


Annotations are courtesy of NoveList Plus, one of the TFPL eResources. Log in to NoveList Plus with your Library card.

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