Review – Secret of the Night Train – Sylvia Bishop

It’s not often that I sit down a devour a book in a single day. If it does happen, it tends to be on holiday when there is plenty of time to unwind. However, once in a while, there is a book that grabs me so much that I can’t put it down. Step forward The Secret of the Night Train.

“think Murder on the Orient Express but for children”

Having read Sylvia Bishop’s previous books – Erica’s Elephant and Bookshop Girl – I was keen to get hold of her latest novel, which this time is aimed at a slightly older audience. It’s a mystery set on a train journey from Paris to Istanbul. Think Murder on the Orient Express but for children – and with a robbery not a murder.

By setting the story on a train, Bishop makes good use of the fact that there are only a handful of suspects. We get to know them all quickly and that’s where your guessing begins. As a reader, Bishop was able to twist my thinking by dropping subtle (and not-so-subtle) hints. At one point, I was convinced I knew what was going on only to discover I was wide of the mark. As such it’s a great book for those strong at predicting and inferring.

“. . .you may find the wanderlust setting in”

Of course that other advantage of setting the story on a train is that we move around Europe swiftly. If you haven’t visited Paris, Istanbul or anywhere in between, you may find the wanderlust setting in. I certainly picked up a Lonely Planet guide a few times whilst reading. A sure fire sign that I was getting itchy feet.

As with Property Jones in Bookshop Girl, Bishop has created a loveable heroine in Max. She’s bold, she’s daring. She’s intelligent. What more could you wanted from an amateur supersleuth? She’s supported by a varied cast of characters. There’s a singing nun, a bumbling Englishman and some rather eccentric jewel collectors to name but a few.

“The story rattles along as any continental train does”

The story rattles along as any continental train does. There’s no time to pause and take a trip to the buffet carriage; you just want to get to your destination and find out who did it. And unlike a conventional train journey, there’s a nice slice of humour thrown in too. I highly recommend this title.


Pages: 304 pages
Age Recommendation: 9 years +
Publisher: Scholastic
ISBN: 9781407184401

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