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The Crack Magazine

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Murder on the Christmas Express by Alexandra Benedict

Alexandra Benedict won plenty of plaudits last year for her festive puzzler ‘The Christmas Murder Game’, which nicely revamped the classic country house mystery. And it looks like she’s trying to corner the yuletide murder market as her latest is another Christmas-set page-turner. It’s the day before Christmas Eve and Roz – a recently retired copper – is desperate to get from London to the Highlands of Scotland because her daughter is just about to give birth. She decides to take the sleeper train and, needless to say, also on board are a disparate group of characters, one of whom isn’t long for this world. There’s Meg, a social media influencer who is forever updating her followers on what particular brand of eye-shadow she’s wearing. Her boyfriend is Grant, a reality TV star and all-round ne’er do well. There’s also Phil and Sally – stressed parents of four kids; Beefy – a genial steward; Iain – a stowaway with designs on Meg; Ember – a woman haunted by her past; and a whole bunch of university students. As is the wont with such things, the train gets stuck due to inclement weather and consequently everyone’s mood turns dark – particularly when one of them is unceremoniously offed. Roz, however, is soon on the case. Benedict has pulled together plenty of classic elements – including a locked room mystery – but she’s also thrown a bit of grit into proceedings to elevate the novel beyond its cosy crime trappings. RM 

Published by Simon & Schuster