Kidnap on the California Comet

Kidnap on the California Comet

By Author / Illustrator

M. G. Leonard, Sam Sedgman, Elisa Paganelli



Age range(s)



Pan Macmillan




Paperback / softback




Board the California Comet and help Harrison Beck to solve another heart-stopping mystery in the second Adventures on Trains story, Kidnap on the California Comet, from bestselling authors M.G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman.

After the excitement of his adventures aboard the Highland Falcon Thief, Harrison Beck can't wait for the opportunity to go on another amazing train journey. So when his Uncle Nat invites him aboard the California Comet, the iconic three-day train journey from Chicago to San Francisco, he leaps at the chance to travel. But when the daughter of billionaire entrepreneur August Reza goes missing en route, Hal finds himself with another mystery to solve. Can he uncover the kidnapper before the journey's end?

An adrenaline-fuelled journey across America from bestselling authors M.G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman in the second mystery adventure in the major Adventures on Trains series.

'A slick and super-satisfying sequel with kidnap, card tricks and the coolest train carriage ever' Ross Montgomery



Having read and thoroughly enjoyed the first in the series, The Highland Falcon Thief, I was thrilled to receive my copy of Kidnap on the Californian Comet by writing duo, M G Leonard and Sam Sedgman, from MacMillian Publishing.

Kidnap on the Californian Comet is every bit as good, perhaps even a little better, if that's possible, as the first book, and while it does include references to Hal's adventures on the Highland Falcon, it can be read as standalone read without losing any of the magic.

In this story, Hal's Uncle Nat, a journalist, is covering an event being hosted by August Reza, a billionaire entrepreneur, who is a passenger on the California Comet. Since it's the school holidays, Hal is accompanying his Uncle on this American train journey, travelling from Chicago to San Francisco.

As soon as Hal arrives in Chicago, complete with sketch book, the adventures begin. Hal quickly makes friends with Hadley, who wants to be a magician and her brother Mason, a keen impersonator and performer. All is going well until the entrepreneur's daughter, Marianne, is kidnapped, and once again, Hal uses his eye for detail and his sleuthing skills to solve the mystery.

In true 'Agatha Christie' style, when the mystery is finally solved the reader is able to see all the clues that they may have overlooked and how the crime has been solved, this guarantees an exciting read for its audience, young or old.

As with the first book in this series, at the start of the book is a map of the journey the train will take, by illustrator Elisa Paganelli. Her detailed pictures throughout the book complement the text perfectly. Since they also represent Hal's drawings, these fab illustrations form a vital part in solving this crime.

An absolutely brilliant adventure story! Ideal for anyone who enjoys a good action packed, mystery story will love this book and be left waiting for the next instalment.  This is now one of my favourite 9+ mysteries series and I am so looking forward to seeing where the next adventure will take me in the next book.... (Not so subtle hint there!)

256 pages / Reviewed by Samantha Phillips, teacher

Suggested Reading Age 9+


Hal's off again with Uncle Nat, this time aboard the California Comet for a trip across America from Chicago to San Francisco. Uncle Nat has been asked to report on a special announcement being made by August Reza, millionaire and train enthusiast, whilst Hal is looking forward to enjoying the trains, the scenery and some sketching. Everything changes, however, when Hal finds himself in the middle of a kidnapping involving Reza's daughter, Marianne.

Once again, M G Leonard and Sam Sedgman whisk us away on a proper adventure! Clues and red herrings abound as Hal and his new train mates, Mason and Hadley, work together to solve the kidnapping and free Marianne. 'Sherlock Davinci' (as they dub Hal) uses his sketchbook and his amazing powers of observation to track down the culprits and solve the case. Elisa Paganelli's illustrations throughout add much to the story.

The book is full of information about trains - this one being based on the California Zephyr - which is seamlessly woven into the story, making it enjoyable for the ferroequinologist and lay person alike. Additional information is offered at the end of the story, explaining more about some elements of the story and pointing the way to finding out more.

There is much to recommend this book for using with a class as the story raises questions about advances in technology and conservation, amongst other things (I can't give too much away!) Following Hal's journey could be an engaging way of tackling some of the KS2 geography!
Great fun, Kidnap on the California Comet is as engaging as The Highland Falcon Thief. I'm already looking forward to Hal's next trip - Murder on the Safari Star.

258 pages / Ages 8+ / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher

Suggested Reading Age 7+


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