Apr. 14th, 2017

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The third of Robin Stevens' Wells and Wong mysteries is set on the Orient Express, where Hazel's father has taken Hazel and Daisy in the summer holidays, hoping to take their minds off detecting. However, they quickly discover that there is a spy on board, and then, shortly after crossing the border into Yugoslavia, one of their fellow-passengers is murdered. Despite Mr Wong's attempts to prevent them, the girls are determined to discover who the murderer was. (It's very obviously and explicitly a tribute to Murder on the Orient Express, of course, although the actual plot isn't particularly similar.)

Like the others in the series, it's a lot less cosy than you'd expect it to be: the racism encountered by Hazel (and, this time, her father) is still present, and there's some very unpleasant period-typical antisemitism as well. To be honest, this one didn't grab me as much as the others, possibly because I worked out the identity of the murderer straight away (though I was wrong about how the murder was actually committed) and also worked out one of the subplots a long way ahead of the girls. Also, one of the things I really liked about the first two was the way they showed the effects of murder on a close-knit community, and made it clear that it wasn't just a case of solving a puzzle, unmasking the culprit and making everything alright again; although the train setting provides a similar closed environment, the connection between the passengers is only a temporary one and the emotional impact of the crime is therefore a lot less. It was still an enjoyable read, but I liked the first two a lot more.

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