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Night Train to Murder

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My first venture into this series, but it intrigued me enough that I intend to read more. While not as out there as his Nightside series, SImon R Green's slightly subversive sense of humour and taste for the weird still shines in this locked-door mystery.
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Not of this world but remade to be part of this world, Ishmael Jones is the ultimate outsider. A surviving member of an alien starship that crash landed in the UK., Jones was reconfigured into a human complete with human DNA. Sadly the machine was damaged, Jones suffered a memory wipe.
How does he know he is not human? Easy, he has not aged since 1963. Survival is possible by hiring out to clandestine organizations. He explores the other world, solving mysteries that are often beyond human understanding. He travels with his partner, Penny, who is the one person who he completely trusts, he seeks the answer to his most difficult question: Who is he really? In the world of monsters, is he one of the bad ones?

In Night Train to Murder, Jones is tasked with observing and preventing the murder of Sir Dennis Gregson. Gregson a nondescript government functionary has been promoted to the Head of the British Psychic Weapons Division. Yes, in this world, along with aliens, psychics are real and very effective. Jones is part of the Organization. As an agent he usually investigates odd little mysteries.
This task seems off, in that it is too straight forward. He and Penny are to join Gregson on a train trip to Bath. Once they arrive in Bath his job is over.

Of course it all goes sideways. Gregson is murdered, and Jones has less than an hour to solve a wonderful locked room style puzzle. Green's observations, and clever dialogue are splendid as usual. The ending comes with a lovely twist complete with a nice hook to lead the reader onward.

Highly recommended for sci-fi lovers and mystery readers who wish to spread their wings.

Full disclosure: I received this ARC copy from netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Simon Green places Ishmael and Penny on a Night Train to Murder.  The politician they are supposed to guard is found murdered in the bathroom.  Whodunit?  Lots of suspects; too many clues and less than an hour to nail the perp.  More of a classical closed door murder than Green's usual supernatural psychic story.  Well plotted.  Psychological thriller.  Read and enjoy.
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Like the murder in a country house, a crime on a train in passage has become a staple of mystery novels. Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express leaps to mind. The space is confined, as is the number of suspects, and the time in which the detective must identify the culprit is limited. 

Author Simon R. Green brings his own inimitable twist to this classic model, beginning with his highly unusual detective, Ishmael Jones – who not only works for a highly secret agency but is himself not exactly human. In fact, not human at all, and bent on keeping that a secret, too. With his charming (human) companion, Penny, he’s been dispatched to protect one of the train passengers, the newly appointed and much disliked Head of the British Psychic Weapons Division. Ismael’s mission is unbeknownst to both the Head, his body guard, his agency, and of course the other passengers. When the Head is found murdered – in the loo (aka rest room) – a true “locked room” mystery if there was one – Ismael and Penny spring into action, questioning everyone, reconstructing the time line, and trying to prevent another murder. Each passenger has their own story, a bit like the characters in Rashomon, and their own secrets that they are desperate to keep hidden.

Green handles all this with a seemingly effortless finesse and attention to character as he guides the story through plot twists and revelations, always “playing fair” with the reader, yet not giving away the surprising resolution until the very end.
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EXCERPT: The toilet door was closed, but the railway guard was knocking on it loudly. He looked around sharply and actually jumped a little as I moved forward to join him.

'What is it?' I asked. 'What's happening?'

The guard stepped back from the toilet door. He seemed a little relieved now he had someone else to share his problem with.

'I saw the gentleman go into this cubicle a while ago, sir, but he hasn't emerged yet. It does seem to me that he's been in there rather a long time, and I'm concerned the gentleman might have been taken ill...'

I hammered on the toilet door with my fist. There was no response. I called Sir Dennis's name and pressed my ear up against the door, but I couldn't hear anything from inside. I stepped back and looked steadily at the guard.

'I'm security. Here to look after Sir Dennis. Is there any way of opening this door from the outside?'

'I'm Eric Holder, sir, guard on this train. I can override the electronic lock, but I'm not sure I should. If the gentleman is ill, he might not want to be seen being ill, if you follow me, sir...'

'Open the door,' I said. 'I'll take responsibility.'

The guard removed a small device from his jacket pocket and fumbled with the controls in a way that suggested he didn't get to use it very often.

'I didn't know these locks could be opened from the outside,' I said.

'We don't advertise the fact, sir. People like to feel secure on the toilet. But I can use this little device to override any electronic system on the train, in an emergency.'

He finally got the thing to work and the lock disengaged. The door slid smoothly to one side, and there was Sir Dennis, sitting on the toilet with his trousers round his ankles, leaning over to one side. And quite definitely dead.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: When Ishmael Jones and his partner Penny are asked to escort a VIP on the late-night train to Bath, it would appear to be a routine case. The Organisation has acquired intelligence that an attempt is to be made on Sir Dennis Gregson’s life as he travels to Bath to take up his new position as Head of the British Psychic Weapons Division. Ishmael’s mission is to ensure that Sir Dennis arrives safely.

How could anyone orchestrate a murder in a crowded railway carriage without being noticed and with no obvious means of escape? When a body is discovered in a locked toilet cubicle, Ishmael Jones has just 56 minutes to solve a seemingly impossible crime before the train reaches its destination.

MY THOUGHTS: I joined this quirky series at book #5, Into the Thinnest Air, and I have enjoyed every one of the subsequent books, until now. This wasn't a bad read, but neither was it up to the standard of the previous books. It felt hastily written, not well thought out, and was distinctly lacking in mystery. Yes, I guessed 'whodunnit'. It was, to me - and I am usually not good at solving these things - blindingly obvious. it should also have been blindingly obvious to Ishmael, who certainly is no dummy, and to Penny.

There was an awful lot of 'filler' in this book, i.e. passages/chapters that had no real point other than to fill up a prerequisite number of pages. There were no red herrings, only a few oblique references to the possibility of 'psychic assassins'. I was looking forward to a brilliant locked room murder. I didn't get it.

Although this was a quick and easy read, I disposed of it in one sitting, it was slow, plodding and, dare I say, quite boring reading. I do love this series and will continue to follow it. I hope this is just one of those uncharacteristic 'blips'. If you haven't read this series previously, I don't suggest that you start with this book.

**.5

'I've always had a fondness for crowds. They make such excellent places to hide in.'

'Testosterone. I keep hoping they will come up with a cure.'

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Simon Richard Green is a British science fiction and fantasy-author. He holds a degree in Modern English and American Literature from the University of Leicester.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Severn House via NetGalley for providing a digital ARC of Night Train to Murder by Simon R. Green for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system, please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page, or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon and my webpage https://sandysbookaday.wordpress.com/...
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This is the eighth in the Ishmael Jones series, but if you haven’t read any of the others, you shouldn’t have too much trouble figuring out what’s going on… mainly because you get a neat little introduction at the very start of the book, explaining that Ishmael is an alien whose ship crash-landed in England in the sixties. Machines on board disguised him as human, and he’s been hiding in plain sight since, although the fact that he doesn’t age is making his life rather more complicated. He’s ended up working for the Organisation, a secret government agency which handles… let’s just call them extraordinary events. 

Assigned with his partner Penny to keep an eye on a VIP on a train, what should be a simple assignment turns into a murder investigation and a classic locked-room mystery, and Ishmael and Penny only have an hour to solve the case.

While this was well written, the solution to the mystery was so blindingly obvious to me immediately I couldn’t figure out why it took an hour for it to even occur to Ishmael. Part urban fantasy, part cozy mystery, I was intrigued by the world-building and the characters, but frustrated by the obviousness of the plot. I’d read more in the series because I enjoyed Ishmael and Penny, but I’d hope for something a little deeper and more complex in the way of plots. Four stars.

Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley.
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Night Train to Murder is the newest entry in the Ishmael Jones series by Simon R. Green. Released 3rd March 2020 by Severn House, it's 192 pages and available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately.

These books, about a generally altruistic alien trapped on earth since 1963, are genre crossing speculative fiction at its absolute best. This one in particular combines a dizzying array of literal locked door - moving train murder mystery, noir, urban fantasy, humor, and supernatural governmental espionage.

The insanely prolific author is well known to urban fantasy fans for his 200 works over 12(+) series including The Nightside. Despite being the 8th book in the series, it works very well as a standalone and readers new to the series won't have any trouble keeping up with the action. I think this book at least should find a wider readership including fans of classic (yes, even golden age) murder mystery. In true Poirot fashion Ishmael Jones eliminates the suspects one by one to solve the locked door murder of a loathsome government minister he and partner Penny are sent to protect before the moving express train makes it to the station at Bath.

Very entertaining and a quick and humorous read. The author has a definite gift with repartee and I found myself smiling often whilst reading.

Four stars. Well worth a look.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes
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I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The concept of Ishmael Jones is one of the more interesting ones I have come across in my reading. What's not to like about the idea of an alien having assimilated himself into our culture and turning his skills to the work of stopping crime?

I went into this one with high hopes and, despite the world's worst attempt at writing dialogue by any one author and some incredibly stereotypical, over the top cliche characters, the first half or so was fairly enjoyable.

Going back to the bad points mentioned above ... the dialogue reads like it's being written by a man who not only has never had a real conversation with another person, but has simply guessed at what they sound like rather than witnessing one firsthand. It just read wooden and fake and really took me out of the whole reading experience as, for the first time in my reading life, a book challenged me not to suspend my disbelief, but to suspend any notion of intelligence I thought I had. That may seem overly harsh ... but I'll explain:

I really don't get the point of Penny. She works for the government along with Ishmael and seems so incompetent that her job would come under serious threat if a seven year-old challenged her for her job. I mean, honestly ... the woman is tasked with making sure a man does not die on the train. So, instead of watching him, she decides that her time would be better spent reading a magazine. In fact, one of her great problems in the whole novel is finding a magazine to take on the train with her. Replace her with a potted plant and you'd treble efficiency. Pretty much any time she featured on the page, whether it was her out-dated dialogue or her pointlessness, it just felt anger-inducing.

Then there's the fact that Ishmael will spend a good period of time deciding against a course of action, only to inexplicably do said course or action on the next page without any reasoning as to why he went against something he was certain was a terrible idea two minutes ago.

Also, ignore the whole '56 minutes to solve a murder' malarkey. Every time Ishmael gives a time update, the amount of time elapsed compared to the things he did in said time is borderline impossible. So it just seems like a pointless little add-on to make it seem more like a thriller than it actually is.

The characters that are classed as primary suspects spend pretty much any and all page time they are given acting like over the top spoiled children who treat greed, selfishness and pure spite like it's going out of fashion and really is something that not only needs to be given out for free, but shoved down the reader's throat. I couldn't help but wish they were all guilty purely because of the utter hatred I developed for them. The bodyguard wasn't much better. A trained military man with years of service and he walks around with the attitude of an angry toddler that has been told 'no' and doesn't like the fact. For someone with his experience, the flagrant breaching of standard policy just smacks of bad storytelling.

I also found that the effort I had to put in to take any of the characters seriously was far too much. It felt like a gym session of the mind and, sadly, my mental muscles weren't up to the task. I found that I just couldn't take any of them seriously or care at all for them.

I also saw a lot of reviews raving about the twist at the end ... if by twist you mean 'the author wrote himself an ending that made the whole of the novel pointless, redundant and just a big old waste of time then ... yea ... stunning.

I know that a lot of people who have read this adore it, and each of them will no doubt think I am being unreasonable. But I challenge anyone to re-read this and not notice any of the things I have mentioned. The only reason I gave this a 2 rather than a 1 is that it is an easy read that, if you can switch your mind off, is kind of fun.

Deathstalker by Simon R. Green was one of my favourite series growing up so I was very excited to try this. Now, after finishing, I have decided to postpone my Deathstalker re-read in case older me smashes through the enjoyment younger me had of that series.
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Green specialises in locked room murder mysteries. This one was a doozy, although I had guessed the culprit well before the denouement. That said, it really didn’t matter all that much as far as I was concerned. I have grown very fond of Jones and Penny and I was also intrigued by the sudden appearance of the psychics and their impact on the espionage industry Jones is so heavily immersed in. I’d like to think that Mr Nemo will be making a reappearance in a later book.

These stories are firmly tongue-in-cheek, and while there wasn’t quite so much humour in this one, there were still a couple of moments when I laughed out loud. I enjoyed the grilling of the suspects and the claustrophobic atmosphere that Green is so good at developing. But for me, the highlight came right at the end when there is a sudden, almighty reveal that is a game-changer for this series and I am hoping very much that Green won’t be waiting too long before he produces book nine. I have to know what’s going to happen next!

Highly recommended for fans of paranormal murder mysteries that don’t take themselves too seriously. The ebook arc copy of Night Train to Murder was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest opinion of the book.
8/10
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I’ve been reading this series since the beginning as I’ve really enjoyed a couple of this author’s other series. I liked the first two books in this series, but I’m getting to the point that I’m not enthused anymore. Don’t get me wrong; the books are well written, Penny and Ishmael are interesting characters, and the books go by quickly. However, the plots are starting to sound like the same thing over and over. I’m waffling on whether to give this 3 or 4 stars; if the plots were just a little bit different, I’d definitely give this book a 4 because of the above. I think I will give it a four, though, because of the very end where something tiny happened; I’m intrigued enough to read the next one. Recommend. I was provided a complimentary copy which I voluntarily reviewed.
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I received a kindle edition of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

YAY! Not another locked house in a rural area setting!! That was literally my first thought with this book. I know this series’ theme revolves around locked room type stories, but the settings were all starting to get too samezies. The last couple of books in the series, Simon has been doing a better job of getting Ishmael and Penny in new locations yet still having a locked room feel.

I loved that we are on a train for this one. Very fun. You get to have your locked room thing going on, yet you are on a moving train so it doesn’t feel as remote or isolated as if you were stuck in a house in the middle of nowhere. It was also a nice nod to Agatha Christie.

Another nice change up Simon has made in this book, is that it doesn’t feel as cut and paste with some of the conversations between Ishmael and Penny. I don’t have examples off the top of my head, but I’ve covered this problem in past reviews for this series. For several of the books, Ishmael and Penny felt like they kept having the same exact conversations, to the letter basically, in each book. Not even a change up in what words were used to say their lines. To me it had felt very cut, copy, and paste from one book to another. It made their relationship very boring and not interesting.

In Night Train to Murder, thankfully (!!!) Simon has really added new life to Penny and Ishmael’s chemistry and conversations. They felt much more like real people talking together instead of just dolls with a pull string repeating their catchphrases. You still have a few spots where they wink and say their cheeky little phrase, but it is refreshed (new words are used, new ways of saying the witty come back, etc.) and feels 100% revitalized and less cliched! So thank you so much, Simon, for another nice switch up to the series! 😀

Night Train is a very entertaining addition to the series. I love the positive changes made by the author. I loved the setting. I also really enjoyed seeing the subplot about psychics. It felt like a subtle tie to one of Simon’s other series (The Ghost Finders, which, by the way, I LOVE! And I’m a big fan of Happy! ❤ ) that featured a lot of psychics. So that was pretty cool to me.

And speaking of psychics, there is a really nice WTF twist at the very, very end. A psychic helps Ishmael with something and it is a big set up for a future book(s?) in the series, and I for one can not wait to see what happens with that! 😮

Now… I really liked this book. I found it pretty entertaining. BUT… I did have a few small problems with it that were…. kinda… hard to ignore. D:

For starters… OMFG, Ishmael!! Why? WHY are you so TERRIBLE at keeping people alive?? Every. Single. Time. He is supposed to protect someone, they end up dead!! How is he the Organisations lead agent when everyone he is supposed to protect DIES?? Yeah, ok… sure, he solves the murder every time, but still! Come on! Have one of the other main characters get killed off and then Ish has to find the murderer WHILE still trying to protect the person he is there to guard. Like, I get it… it’s a good set up to have that person getting killed, and that forces Ish to find out what happened on his watch, blah blah blah. But… it just makes Ishmael look so bad every time. Seriously, it is starting to get a little ridiculous. *Shrug* At least all the other characters in Night Train managed to not get killed. So that is a slight improvement.

My other hard-to-ignore complaint is… Holy face palm, Ishmael. DUDE. How did you NOT know so-and-so was the killer?? How did he never even think “Maybe that person?” Like, it never even crosses Ishmael’s mind at all to question what so and so said or did. The killer felt so extremely obvious from the very beginning… which wasn’t even my main complaint! My complaint is that Ishmael is better then this. He is smarter, craftier then what he was like in this book. Basically Ish sits around and spins his wheels the whole time staring at people. Like, he was TOO stumped by the lack of clues.

When the main character is this stumped for clues through a majority of the book, and there isn’t much forward movement in main plot, the whole middle part of the book just starts to feel like a lot of filler. And that, my friends, is NOT a good thing to have!

I’ve run into this problem with a few of the other books in the series. :/ Hopefully the author can work on that in future books for Ish. I mean, I get that Ishmael’s mind was preoccupied 95% of time, but still… it just felt too obvious for someone with his level of experience in life, crime and murder, you know?

Even though Ishmael solving the murder was uber frustrating, and I wanted to constantly scream at him who the killer was, while simultaneously high-fiving his face, I still enjoyed the book. Normally if I feel like I can predict who the killer is so quickly, it kind ruins the book for me… but, I don’t know. It was still fun! I was entertained. I liked the supporting characters. Penny was so much more tolerable this time around that I actually kinda…. liked her for once. 😮 And the other changes that the author has made in this book (stale conversations, repetition in dialogue as well as vocab choices, lack of chemistry, etc.) are a breath of fresh air in the series. I think that really helped this book feel so different (then the rest of the series).

Now if only the author can give more clues to Ishmael so he isn’t stumped for 80% of the book, that would be awesome.  :)
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I really enjoy the Ishmael Jones series, with its alien in human appearance acting to help who or whatever seems to be the forces of good. In this outing, Ishmael and partner Penny are tasked with protecting a newly appointed minister of defense in the Psychic arena. A generally loathed and loathsome man, no one understands why he even received the appointment.

The scene is the first class car of a nonstop train London to Bath. If anything is to happen, there will be limited time, space and people involved... except for the possibility of psychics intruding. Here, Night Train to Murder takes some cues from classic mysteries of the Golden Age, such as the locked room mystery. And since this is not one of my favorite devices, I had some difficulty engaging in the story at my usual level of excitement at times in spite of my love of reading about Ishmael and Penny.

I must repeat that I did enjoy this novel, but I’m awaiting the next outing already. I continue to recommend the series.

3.5*

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.
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They're back! Ishmael and Penny are together again, this time on a train (no spoiler)! and investigating the suspicious murder of a high profile individual.

I thoroughly enjoy these adventures, although, for me this isn't one of the best. Instead, I found it slow and plodding at times and had to really stick with it. An OK read.

In summary, these are great characters and I love the plot lines. However, if it's your first time reading about Ishmael and Penny, please don't start with this one.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for the opportunity to preview in exchange for this honest review.
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Ishmael Jones and Penny Belcourt are contacted by The Organization to protect the new minister of the psychic services as he travels to his new posting. As an alien, Ishmael is able to spot psychics who try to conceal themselves under a cloak of invisibility. But, when the minister is murdered in the toilet on the train, it become a matter of "once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth." (Sherlock Holmes) This series is an enjoyable romp with typical British humor and good pacing. Always an enjoyable escape.
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Locked Room Mystery With A Twist....
An Ishmael Jones mystery and a worthy addition to this long running series. Ishmael is faced with a conundrum on the night train to Bath when a body turns  up in a locked lavatory cubicle. What he, and partner Penny, first considered a run of the mill request to escort a VIP (the new Head of the British Psychic Weapons Division) on the train rapidly turns into a most puzzling case and Ishmael is working against the clock to solve it. Enjoyable and entertaining locked room mystery with a paranormal twist.
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Ishmael Jones is an agent for a secret organization. He, and his partner Penny, are called out to work unusual, often extremely dangerous, cases....mostly because Ishmael is an unusual, often extremely dangerous, person. Well.....not a person exactly. He's an alien disguised as a human. When strange things happen that threaten humanity, The Organization calls on Ishmael. In return, they make sure nobody discovers he isn't quite human.

This time, Ishmael receives a summons from The Organization that isn't quite his normal sort of case. He and Penny are hired to provide extra security for a VIP aboard a late-night train to Bath. The man is the new head of the British Psychic Weapons Division and rumor has it that someone plans to kill him on the train. What could possibly go wrong? A dead VIP, perhaps? And only an hour to find out who killed him.....

I really enjoy this series. I've been a huge Simon R. Green fan ever since I read his Nightside series. Ishmael Jones is the perfect secret agent....an alien hiding in plain sight. He has excellent protection and sleuthing skills. Penny is his perfect partner.....caring, intelligent, and extremely protective of Ishmael.

These stories are short, but always suspenseful, creepy and fun to read. Green packs a lot into a few pages! I enjoyed this newest case, and look forward to the next! Simon R. Green never fails to deliver a great story! 

Night Train to Murder is the 8th book in the Ishmael Jones series. Although not completely necessary to read the series in order (there is always a bit of explanation about Jones' background at the start of each tale), the series really should be read in order to get the complete background of the characters and to avoid any spoilers for previous cases. The stories are all relatively short...150 pages or less most of the time. So it wouldn't be too difficult for a new reader to catch up with this series. 

**I voluntarily read a review copy of this book from Severn House. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**
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An interesting locked room murder to be solved by Ishmael Jones and his partner Penny.  They're on a train travelling to the town of Bath when the political official they're supposed to be guarding is found murdered in a locked toilet.  Ishmael follows his usual routine of taking over, interviewing the suspects, keeping them in line, and then figuring out who is really the murderer.  The number of suspects is limited, as is common in  this series, so the reader may be able to solve the case before Jones does.  The whole book really serves as a giant McGuffin for the last line of the book, which opens the door to (many?) more in this series.  A fast read, but similar to the others in this series.
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My thanks to Severn House Publishing for an eARC via NetGalley of Simon R. Green’s ‘Night Train to Murder’ in exchange for an honest review. It is already released in the U.K. and will be published in the USA in early March.

This is the eighth in Green’s Ishmael Jones Mystery series. I read and reviewed the seventh book, ‘Till Sudden Death Do Us Part’ in August and enjoyed it very much becoming an instant fan. I was so excited to see another title released so soon, though Green is quite a prolific author.

When The Organisation receives information that there may be an attempt on the life of Sir Dennis Gregson, the newly appointed Head of the British Psychic Weapons Division, during a late night train journey to Bath, they assign Ishmael Jones and his partner, Penny, as undercover escorts. When a body is discovered in the First Class toilet cubicle, Ishmael and Penny have less than an hour to uncover the murderer.

I adore the combination of science fiction (Ishmael is an alien, the only survivor of a spaceship that crashed in 1963) with the feel of classic Golden Age Detective fiction in this series. Here a murder on a train offers another type of locked room whodunnit and even has the classic style of concluding denouncement.

This was a very entertaining read that exhibits Green’s dry wit throughout. While I plan to catch up on the earlier titles, this works fine as a stand-alone for newcomers to the series as Green opens with background on how Ishmael came to be involved in solving unusual cases for The Organisation and his alien origins. 

The final page gives an intriguing teaser for the future. I can hardly wait!
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This one was a little off for my liking. It was more of a slight of hand kind of a read. There was a look over here and not over there quality to the book that actually took away from the book. It's not that it dragged at parts, it's that much of the middle of it actually meant nothing in the end. The ending is supposed to make up for it but really that's just throwing readers a bone for the next book.
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I have to clearly say I love the Ishmael Jones books, and this is no exception. Ishmael along with Penny are to be backup guards for a government official, however when the man is murdered right off the bat we get to watch how Ishmael solves this locked door mystery. It is fast moving as they only have an hour to solve it. Good secondary characters and several suspects it all gets figured out. It's the major story arc at the end that gave me my holy crap moment. Looking forward to the next, and I want it now! Thanks to NetGalley for the advanced read.
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