Inspector Robert Colbeck

Railway To The Grave

Railway to the grave In his seventh outing, Inspector Robert Colbeck faces his most daunting case yet. A retired colonel, whose wife has gone missing, commits suicide under the wheels of a train. Common opinion is that he murdered his wife and sought to escape justice.

Superintendent Tallis, who knew the man well from his days in the army, refuses to believe that his old friend was a killer. He travels to Yorkshire with Colbeck to find out what really happened to the missing wife and why the bereaved husband took his own life.

The detectives meet with great hostility, not least from the local vicar who refuses to have the body of a suicide victim buried in consecrated ground. When the corpse of the missing wife is found, the investigation takes a different turn altogether and the Railway Detective has to wade through a mass of conflicting evidence.

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The Silver Locomotive Mystery

The Silver Locomotive Mystery Inspector Colbeck's sixth outing takes him to South Wales to investigate a murder at the Railway Hotel and the theft of a silver coffee pot in the shape of a locomotive. Key witnesses are members of a touring theatre company performing Macbeth at the Theatre Royal in Cardiff. When the leading lady suddenly vanishes, it seems as if the Scottish play has brought disaster to yet another troupe. As the crimes multiply, Colbeck and Sergeant Leeming have to dash to and fro on the railway system. Even though they have the assistance of Jeremiah Stockdale, the town's chief constable, their efforts are nevertheless hampered at every turn. When they finally run the villains to ground, they are in for a great shock.

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Murder on the Brighton Express

Murder on the Brighton Express 1854. The fifth novel in the Railway Detective series confronts Robert Colbeck with his most difficult assignment to date. Travelling at top speed, the Brighton express comes off the line and collides with an oncoming ballast train. The official view is that the disaster is a result of driver error but Colbeck believes that the crash was deliberately engineered. In the course of his investigations, he encounters a whole range of problems. One of the survivors of the crash is being stalked by a killer. In order to solve the accumulating crimes, Colbeck has to protect the victim and put his own life - quite literally - on the line.

"Marston continues to produce historical crime writing of the first order, replete with authentic period detail, a vivid cast of characters and a plot that makes for compulsive reading."
Good Book Guide

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The Iron Horse

The Iron Horse The fourth outing of the Railway Detective is based around the Derby of 1854. When a porter unloads luggage from the roof of a train in Crewe, he drops a trunk on to a lady’s hatbox and breaks the strap. As the hatbox opens, a human head rolls out. It is the beginning of a case that takes Inspector Robert Colbeck to Ireland, where one of the favourites for the Derby is being trained, and sets him off on a trawl through the nobility, crooks and undesirables who live off horseracing.

Overcoming his dislike of train travel, Sergeant Victor Leeming is eager to be involved because he hopes he may pick up valuable tips about the Derby itself. The detectives follow a tortuous route through the London underworld and soon discover that they have more than one serious crime to solve. Their efforts are hampered by the fact that there is a spy in Scotland Yard who is warning one of their suspects about their movements. The action builds to a climax at Epsom where the Derby brings the three fancied horses together and unleashes further crimes. Colbeck and Leeming – aided by Madeleine Andrews, who gains information that only a woman could glean - have to work at full stretch to bring the villains to book.

"This is how history mysteries should be: fine storytelling, marvellous characters reminiscent of the great authors of the mid-Victorian period, and a sneaky mystery, too."
Sherlock Holmes Magazine

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The Railway Viaduct

The Railway Viaduct The third outing for Inspector Robert Colbeck propels him into a complex case that takes him to France. A man is stabbed to death then hurled over the Sankey Viaduct from a moving train. When he discovers that the victim is a French engineer, Colbeck and his assistant, Sergeant Victor Leeming, travel to France where the British contractor, Thomas Brassey, is building a railway between Mantes and Caen.

The project is plagued by vandalism and the detectives have to solve the crimes on French soil before they can pick up the trail to the villains back in England who perpetrated them. When he involves his beloved, Madeleine Andrews, in the murder inquiry, Colbeck learns once again how valuable a contribution a woman can make. He is also given an insight into the wild humour, violence and squalor of the camp inhabited by Irish navvies.

"A cops and robbers tale with a dimension of crackling suspense."
Good Book Guide

"Marston takes this important period of history and makes it his own."
Reviewing the Evidence

"Marston's excellent new historical series features a Victorian detective with attitude. Strongly recommended."
Library Journal

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The Excursion Train

The Excursion Train An excursion train carries rowdy passengers to an illegal prize fight in Berkshire. As the crowd surges from the train, a murder victim is left behind. Inspector Robert Colbeck discovers that the dead man was a cobbler, living under an assumed name because he worked part-time as a public executioner. His work on the scaffold has made him countless enemies but a recent bungled execution in Kent gives Colbeck the break that he needs.

Based in Ashford, a railway town, Colbeck and his assistant, Sergeant Victor Leeming, have to solve the crime for which an innocent man was wrongly executed before they can catch the hangman's killer.

The Excursion Train was nominated for the Theakston's Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year Award 2007.

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The Railway Detective

The Railway Detective 1851. The London to Birmingham mail train is stopped and derailed, injuring the driver badly. Inspector Colbeck is faced with the first crime of its kind, a daring and well-organised train robbery that rocks the railway company, the postal service, the Royal Mint and the bank to which the substantial amount of gold coin was being sent. With the Great Exhibition in the offing, interest is mounting in the engineering triumphs of the railways but it seems that they have dangerous enemies.

Colbeck's investigation makes good progress but is thrown off course by the kidnap of Madeleine Andrews, the beautiful daughter of the injured train driver and a young woman for whom Colbeck has more than a passing affection. His commitment is intensified.

"A thoroughly enjoyable mid-Victorian romp."
The Observer

"An intriguing dip into murky, mid-1850's London, full of twists and memorable characters, and a mystery that will surprise you at every turn."
Crime Time

"The atmosphere of mid-19th-century London is potent, and a series of unforgettable characters emerges in a detective story with a difference."
The Good Book Guide

"Colbeck proves to be every bit as motivated as the thieves, giving this tale a dimension of cracking suspense."
The Good Book Guide

The Railway Detective was nominated for the Theakston's Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year Award 2006.

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Inspector Robert Colbeck

Robert Colbeck is an Inspector in the Detective Department of the Metropolitan Police, still very much in its infancy. A former barrister, Colbeck abandoned his career as a result of a personal tragedy and turned his attention to catching villains. A dandy in the prosaic world of law enforcement, he has an abrasive relationship with his boss, former soldier, Superintendent Tallis. Though he could never bring himself to like Colbeck, the Superintendent recognises his rare gifts as a detective and approves of his unflagging tenacity. All of Colbeck's cases are connected in some way with the railways, the defining phenomena of Victorian England.

The novels

Inspector Robert Colbeck - series titles:
The Railway Detective
The Excursion Train
The Railway Viaduct
The Iron Horse
Murder on the Brighton Express
The Silver Locomotive Mystery
Railway to the Grave
Blood on the Line
The Stationmaster's Farewell
Peril on the Royal Train
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