Steam locomotives, ancient curses, dark history and intrepid investigators – it’s an eccentric and charming mystery that’s fun for all ages.

mary celesteJack Wenlock is the last of a legendary group of railway detectives – known as the Goslings – to serve on the pre-nationalised railways of Britain.

In 1947, shortly to become unemployed, he is tempted into trying to solve the greatest mystery of his time – the disappearance of 23 nuns in 1915, last seen on the 7.25 from Swindon to Bristol Temple Meads.

With the persistent and unsettling presence of Jenny the Spiddler, who has come to him for help to solve a mystery of her own, he faces terrible danger as he delves into the darkest corners of the Empire for his answers.

Wenlock, an orphan like all the Goslings, manages to be both sweetly naïve and well able to look after himself in a crisis.

He’s a Boy’s Own golden-haired hero with just a hint of tough detective Sam Spade and he is armed, as necessary, with the formidable force of a Great Western Region fireman’s shovel.

Pryce’s book is a delight from beginning to end. It’s fast paced and funny, with some nicely judged nostalgia for a simpler and more honourable past – and steam locomotives.  With luck, Jack will be back with more adventures.

This review was first published in the Herald Sun’s Weekend magazine. The book was published in May 2015.

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