By Author / Illustrator
M. G. Leonard, Sam Sedgman
Paperback / softback
The bestselling, prize-winning Adventures on Trains series embarks on a thrilling sixth adventure as Harrison Beck and Uncle Nat climb aboard the night train to Narvik, travelling to the Arctic Circle to see the northern lights for Christmas. But as their train leaves Stockholm, Hal and Uncle Nat realize they're being followed by a sinister figure, and Hal's powers of observation are tested when Uncle Nat's past comes back to haunt him. Journeying into the never ending night of the arctic winter, our railway detectives must outsmart an assassin in their most chilling adventure yet, in which nothing is as it seems.
The Arctic Railway Assassin can be read as a stand-alone novel, or enjoyed as part of the award-winning Adventures on Trains series written by M. G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman. Join Hal and Uncle Nat on more stops in this thrilling series with: Murder on the Safari Star, Danger at Dead Man's Pass and Sabotage on the Solar Express.
Praise for the series: 'Like Murder on the Orient Express but better!' - Frank Cottrell-Boyce on The Highland Falcon Thief. 'A first class choo-choo-dunnit!' - David Solomons on Kidnap on the California Comet. 'A high-speed train journey worth catching . . .The best yet' - The Times on Murder on the Safari Star. 'This series just gets better and better' - Maz Evans on Danger at Dead Man's Pass.
Hal is flying off to Sweden to meet his Uncle Nat. Together, they are going to make a special Christmas trip to the Aurora Sky Station to see the Northern Lights. Uncle Nat's friend, Mortimer, has just won a Nobel Prize, and has been scared by a series of inexplicable events since the announcements. Although she is supposed to be accompanying them on the Narvik train, Morti has a sudden change of plans, leaving Hal and Nat to board alone. But as they leave Stockholm, Hal and his uncle realise that they are being followed and things take a sinister turn as Uncle Nat's past returns to haunt him, putting them both in danger.
The Arctic Railway Assassin is definitely the most tense and fast paced trains adventure yet - and my new favourite! In this story, we learn more about Uncle Nat's mysterious past and it seems that danger is catching up with him. There are moments of real peril and suspense as the action builds, raising serious concerns for the safety of all involved.
As readers have come to expect, The Arctic Railway Assassin is full of wonderful descriptions of the trains and railways - a gift for any rail fan. This attention to detail really makes you want to visit the locations involved - Kungsträdgården Station and the metro, Stockholm, as well as the journey north to the Arctic Circle - leaving you with a strong sense of wanderlust, a longing to see the Northern lights and to stay in the Ice Hotel! A section of notes at the end of the book offers more information about these places if the reader is interested.
Hal's artwork continues to be central to each story, but in this one, I feel there is a real sense of the development of his talent. The reader is told that he has been practising drawing at speed and is now 'able to get down all the important lines at a breakneck pace', loosely sketching in 'a series of eggs for heads' and other marks to guide his drawing. The addition of these details really adds to the story as it is through Hal's considerable skill that the crimes are solved. Elisa Paganelli's wonderful illustrations continue to give life to his sketches, allowing the reader to see each scene Hal captures and glean the same clues - if they can!
I love the fact that the Sámi people have been included in this story. Katarina, who Hal meets on this trip, is a great character with observational skills and courageous spirit to match Hal's. Details about the fascinating culture of her people, including clothing, food and their reindeer, add great interest to the story. I have been lucky enough to visit Sápmi and am ashamed to say that I did not know the Sámi people find 'Lapland' offensive. You really do learn - and should learn - something new every day.
The success of this series is not at all surprising as every book not only introduces the reader to a new location - and a new train - but also a brilliant new mystery to solve. I can't wait to see what Hal gets up to next!
Suggested Reading Age 9+