Theatre troupe Westfield's Men take on a new actor Francis Quilter after reaching new heights of success. But with the new member comes new trouble. Quilter's father, Gerard, is on trial for the murder of an enemy, but he denies the charge, and Nicholas Bracewell sets about proving his innocence. However, Bracewell's loyalty to Francis drives a wedge between the players. Who will clear the Quilter family name?
When fire destroys their London theatre, Lord Westfield’s players must seek out humbler venues in the countryside. But company manager Nicholas Bracewell is distracted by a shocking tragedy: a mysterious messenger from his native Devon is murdered by poison. Though the messenger is silenced, Nicholas understands what he must do: Return to his birthplace and reconcile some unfinished business of the past.
"Trickery, treachery, murder, thieves, plague..."
Guy Fawkes Night, 1857. Joel Heygate is the popular stationmaster at Exeter St David's railway station - an impressive figure of a man replete with frock coat and top hat, bushy eyebrows and walrus moustache. But when the charred remains of a body are discovered in the embers of the town's annual Bonfire Night celebration, everyone is horrified when it becomes clear that they belong to Mr Heygate.
On the shocking discovery of a passenger's body on the Great Western Railway excursion train, Detective Inspector Robert Colbeck and his assistant, Sergeant Victor Leeming, are dispatched to the scene. Faced with what initially appears to be a motiveless murder, Colbeck is intrigued by the murder weapon - a noose. When it emerges that the victim had worked as a public executioner, Colbeck realises that this must be intrinsically linked to the killer's choice of weapon.
The route of the Caledonian Railway through the Scottish countryside is disrupted by a fatal crash. Inspector Robert Colbeck and Sergeant Victor Leeming are called from the crime of London to investigate, and must contend with the old enemy Superintendent Rory McTurk to uncover the criminals behind the disaster. The motive for the crash is unclear, with suspects including the North British Railway, a group of sabbatarians and those with vendettas to enact.
Young Imogen Burnhope and her maid board a non-stop train to Oxford but they never arrive. All the passengers alight but the two women seem to have vanished into thin air. Is it a simple case of a run away? Or is there a more sinister, larger conspiracy at work? The Railway Detective must unravel the mystifying web of their disappearance before they vanish into oblivion for good.
Faced with the austerities of a bitterly cold English winter, the theatre is deserted, and Westfield’s Men find themselves out of work. Fortuitously, the company is invited to perform at a country home in Essex - welcome news to the disgruntled players. The company decides it's the perfect opportunity to trial their new play, The Witch of Colchester. However, when the group's leading actor begins to fall mysteriously ill, the company fear witchcraft might be involved.
The plague has struck London once again but so has opportunity for theatre company Lord Westfield's Men. Invited to perform at the wedding celebrations of Sophia Magdalena, the fair maid of Bohemia, the company's bookholder, Nicholas Bracewell, and his acting troupe begin the long journey across Europe. Confident they will arrive safely and deliver Lord Westfield's secret missive to an alchemist in the Imperial Court, Nicholas is unaware what danger travels with them.
Eighteen fifty-nine, St. Mary’s Church, Sponden. A little girl playing hide-and-seek jumps into a freshly dug grave to find a dead man already occupying it. It is the body of Cecile Norton, a senior director of the Midland Railway. Inspector Colbeck and Sergeant Leeming travel to Derbyshire to investigate.
In this thrilling selection of short stories, a young porter is found dead in a coal tub; Colbeck devises a trap to catch a thief; and a burnt train carriage holds a gruesome secret in a small coastal village. As Colbeck and his trusty aide Sergeant Victor Leeming begin to piece together clues and motives for each crime, it becomes clear the pair must stay a step ahead of the culprits to solve the cases. With a new suspect at every turn, can the duo unearth the villains?
When Nicholas Bracewell finds himself once again in the parlour of his lost love, Anne Hendrik, he was not expecting her entreaties to embroil him in the murder of a beloved choir master. Between tales of cruelty, forgotten maps of London and a butcher determined to rescue his son, it is yet another mystery for the book keeper to untangle. But will his quest endanger Lord Westfield's Men?
The year is 1855, and on the LNWR train to London, a criminal is being escorted to his appointment with the hangman. But the wily Jeremy Oxley, conman, thief and murderer, has one last ace up his sleeve: a beautiful and ruthless accomplice willing to do anything to save her lover, including committing cold-blooded murder... When Inspector Robert Colbeck learns that Oxley, his nemesis, has once again escaped, black memories of their shared past leave him no choice but to do his duty.
The Railway Detective faces his most dangerous adversary yet. It is 1852, and Inspector Robert Colbeck and his assistant Sergeant Victor Leeming are faced with their most complex and difficult case to date. As a train speeds over the Sankey Viaduct, a man is hurled from a carriage and plummets into the canal below. It later transpires that he has been stabbed to death. With no papers by which to identify the man, the detectives' investigation is hampered from the start. Suspecting that the victim may have come from continental Europe, Colbeck and Leeming take the case to France where a new railway is being built by a British contractor.
Derby Day at Epsom Downs and a multitude of people crowd to watch the races: dukes and dustmen, bishops and beggars, privileged ladies and prostitutes. The gamut of Victorian society, though, is also a hotbed for crime and crooks of all kinds. With the country a-flutter in the run-up to this national occasion, events reach fever pitch when a disembodied head is discovered on a passenger train at Crewe; the first in a murky course of events that takes in murder, fraud and race-fixing.
May 1915. With thousands of Britons fighting in the trenches, a severely depleted police force remains behind to keep the Home Front safe. Scotland Yard is already overstretched when the sinking of the Lusitania sparks an unprecedented wave of anti-German riots and arson attacks. Among the victims is the immigrant tailor Jacob Stein, found dead in his burnt-out shop.
"Scotland Yard puzzles me in this book"
Inspector Marmion and Sergeant Keedy are assigned to the case when the body of a young conscientious objector is found bludgeoned to death. Public sympathy is lukewarm for conscientious objectors with some people even claiming that a "conchie" deserves to die if he won't fight for his King and Country. As the detectives identify one suspect, others pop up in the most unexpected places. Everyone speaks well of Ablatt but is he really the saint they describe?
It's 1815. Peter and Paul Skillen, identical twins and fearless thief catchers, stalk all who dare to walk in the shadow of the hangman. When they catch a notorious burglar, they claim a handsome reward and infuriate the Bow Street Runners, who believe they have a monopoly on policing in the capital. Home Secretary Viscount Sidmouth faces a crisis.
"Horrible. Unless you like British drool."
Yorkshire 1855. When Colonel Aubrey Tarleton walks into the path of a speeding train, he is crushed to death on the track. The famous Railway Detective, Inspector Robert Colbeck, is immediately put on the case to determine why such a well-respected man would have resorted to suicide. Tarleton's wife had recently gone missing, but was the colonel responsible for her disappearance? It's up to Colbeck and his trusty sergeant Victor Leeming to uncover the truth.
When the engines finally met, there was a deafening clash and the Brighton Express twisted and buckled, tipping its carriages on to the other line. It was a scene of utter devastation. October 1854. As crowds of passengers rush to make the departure of the London to Brighton Express, a man watches from the shadows nearby, grimly satisfied as the train pulls out of the station. Chaos, fatalities and unbelievable destruction are the scene soon after when the train derails on the last leg of its journey.
An exquisite silver coffee-pot in the shape of a locomotive is on its way to Cardiff in the care of silversmith, Hugh Kellow. When the coffee-pot is stolen and a murder is committed, Inspector Colbeck and Sergeant Leeming are called in to investigate.
"Fun when you need a light read with good mystery"