Originally published: 10 Nov 2022
Author: Alexandra Benedict
Published by: Simon & Schuster
Genre: Christmas Murder Mystery
Length: 352 pages
Reading dates: 1-6 December 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
I devoured The Christmas Murder Game in November and so when the chance came up to read Murder on the Christmas Express as part of a readalong with Tandem Collective over on Instagram, I jumped at the chance and luckily was chosen.
In this Christmas themed murder mystery we follow retired police detective Roz as she catches the Highland sleep train to Fort William where her daughter has just gone into labour with her first grandchild. Also on board are social media and reality TV stars Meg and her boyfriend Grant, a group of 4 University students hoping to be chosen for a TV quiz show, Teacher Phil, his wife Sally and kids, Mary and her son Tony, Ember, Craig and a mystery stowaway.
As the train leaves London, the guests congregate in the club car and get to know each other a little. Just after they leave Edinburgh, the weather worsens and the train hits a fallen tree and derails. Luckily nobody is seriously hurt but when Roz checks the compartments to make sure everyone is OK, someone is found dead. When it becomes apparent it is murder, Roz reluctantly comes out of retirement to try and determine what happened, the biggest mystery of all being how the person was murdered in a cabin locked from the inside. Before long more deaths follow and it is up to Roz to try and solve the puzzle.
Yet again I wasn’t able to guess the outcome, and Murder on the Christmas Express is a clever and engaging murder mystery, with a mix of characters who are both unlikable and sympathetic. It is hinted at that Roz went through a traumatic event when pregnant with her daughter from which she has never recovered and she feels she has never been a good enough mother because of it. The book takes a dark turn towards the end so I would say this isn’t a cosy murder mystery.
Again the author has added some puzzles to solve along the way including anagrams of some of her favourite stories and poems, a pub quiz and also the chance to spot some Kate Bush songs hidden in the text. I enjoyed this as much as The Christmas Murder Game – a real page turner that kept me entertained and despite the multiple murders, made me want to travel on a sleeper train to Scotland! I’m hoping Alexandra will be bringing out a new one of these each year to satisfy my Christmas murder mystery cravings!
Thank you to Tandem Collective for a copy of the book as part of the readalong.
About the author:
Alexandra Benedict has been a composer, singer-songwriter, actor, and lecturer in crime fiction, and is now an award-winning writer of novels, short stories and scripts. As AK Benedict, she writes high-concept novels, speculative short stories and scripts. Her first novel, the critically-acclaimed THE BEAUTY OF MURDER, was nominated for the eDunnit Award; her short stories have featured in many anthologies; and her audio drama has been shortlisted for multiple awards including the BBC Audio Drama Award 2020, and, twice, for the Scribe Award, winning it in 2019. As Alexandra Benedict, she writes contemporary tributes and takes on Golden Age crime fiction. THE CHRISTMAS MURDER GAME was an Amazon Fiction Bestseller and was long-listed for the CWA Gold Dagger Award. Her latest novel, MURDER ON THE CHRISTMAS EXPRESS, arrives on November 10th. She lives on the south coast of England with her fiancé, writer Guy Adams, their daughter, and their dog, Dame Margaret Rutherford.