by Jennifer Oberth
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Short Story
Ella Westin is a young newlywed on a train ride with her new husband, Joe, meeting new people and trying to enjoy what should be a peaceful journey. However, with her typical luck, Ella must solve a murder that occurs right before her eyes. Poison hides somewhere on the train, waiting to eliminate anyone who uncovers too much of the murderer’s plot. Can Ella protect her hapless husband, Joe? Can she fool her fellow passengers long enough to prevent another murder and stop the culprit?
Jennifer has created an exciting mystery with an interesting surprise. Ella’s unique personality and approach to life in a time where women held second-class status gives the tale a modern feel.
I haven’t read any other books in this series, but I could still enjoy the story and understand the characters and plot without that background. Hints appeared to previous adventures, which interested me but didn’t detract from the story at hand.
I was surprised and disappointed to find almost no character or scene description in Toxic Train. Too much description is a problem I see most often, but I do need enough to know roughly what characters look like, how old they are, and how to distinguish one from the other. Jennifer’s characters managed well with scant description, which is an accomplishment, but the missing scenery gave a hasty and dry feeling to a tale that could have had so much more richness to it. Without any description, the story lost its historical feel and blended into any other time period. A large part of my enjoyment in reading historical fiction is the transport to another time and the things I learn from it.
I’m not one to try to guess “whodunit” before the story ends, but I’m also not one to ignore the possibility. I didn’t guess ahead of time, and I enjoyed the surprise and the ensuing adventure that the killer’s identity prompted. Toxic Train is a fun and entertaining read with some good challenges to convention to make the reader think, fun setting, and interesting mystery.
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I received this book from the author for the purposes of an unbiased review.
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