The Case of the 'Hail Mary' Celeste The Case Files of Jack Wenlock, Railway Detective

by Malcolm Pryce

Crime / Mystery Thriller and Suspense

LoveReading View on The Case of the 'Hail Mary' Celeste The Case Files of Jack Wenlock, Railway Detective

Maxim Jakubowski's March 2015 Book of the Month.

Best known for his quirky P.I. series set in Aberystwyth, Pryce debuts a new series, featuring an endearing railway detective in the 1950s. Again, it feels like a parallel world straight out of a Boy's Own adventure, sparkling with wit, true melancholy, thrills and spills. A joyful reading experience like no other triggered by the inexplicable disappearance of a group of nuns on a military mission of international importance from a train and its later consequences in deepest Africa. What sounds at first like a tender parody reaches surprising heights of pathos and genuine empathy as Pryce orchestrates a hymn to a lost world of steam locomotives and gallant protagonists with humanistic values and bags full of courage and curiosity. In addition, the case is also madly funny at times and succeeds in blending humour and a breathless thriller scenario like no other. I'm already puffing for the next instalment!

Maxim Jakubowski

The Case of the 'Hail Mary' Celeste The Case Files of Jack Wenlock, Railway Detective Synopsis

It was Tuesday the second of December 1947 when Jenny the Spiddler walked into my office: almost a month before they nationalised my mother. Jack Wenlock is the last of the Railway Goslings: that fabled cadre of railway detectives created at the Weeping Cross Railway Servants' Orphanage, who trod the corridors of the GWR trains in the years 1925 to 1947. Sworn to uphold the name of God's Wonderful Railway and all that the good men of England fought for in two world wars, Jack keeps the trains free of fare dodgers and purse-stealers, bounders and confidence tricksters, German spies and ladies of the night. But now, as the clock ticks down towards the nationalisation of the railways Jack finds himself investigating a case that begins with an abducted great aunt, but soon develops into something far darker and more dangerous. It reaches up to the corridors of power and into the labyrinth of the greatest mystery in all the annals of railway lore - the disappearance in 1915 of twenty-three nuns from the 7.25 Swindon to Bristol Temple Meads, or the case of the 'Hail Mary' Celeste. Shady government agents, drunken riverboat captains, a bandaged bookseller, a missing manuscript, a melancholic gorilla and a 4070 Godstow Castle engine - the one with a sloping throatplate in the firebox and the characteristic double cough in the chuffs - all collide on a journey that will take your breath away.

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The Good Book Guide Review

From the author of the bestselling ‘Aberystwyth’ series comes an exuberant, hilarious and intricately plotted thriller, a tongue-in-cheek homage to some of historical crime-writing’s trailblazers. In1947, Jack Wenlock is the last of the famed Railway Gos-lings, a group of detectives drawn from a railway workers’ orphanage, raised to regard the railway as their family and to protect the industry from the scourges of fare-dodging, international espionage and immoral behaviour. Galvanised by the impending nationalisation of the railway he loves, Jack is drawn into a bizarre and dangerous web of intrigue that implicates powerful figures, and leads towards to the greatest unsolved transport mystery of all time, the disappearance of 23 nuns on a train from Swindon to Bristol in 1915. Funny, accomplished and irrepressible as ever, Pryce delivers a mystery novel that is entertaining and compelling, packed with unforgettable characters, antique engines and high adventure.

The Case of the 'Hail Mary' Celeste The Case Files of Jack Wenlock, Railway Detective Press Reviews

'An utter delight - this cocktail of the surreal and the terrifyingly real is a rare entertainment for rail fans and crime fans alike' Michael Williams, author of On the Slow Train


'Effortless and hilarious. Pryce is in a league of his own' Time Out


'Malcolm Pryce is the king of welsh noir . Edgar Allen Poe meets Phoenix Nights in a flurry of blood-stained absurdity' Sunday Telegraph


'A master of dry delivery, he has an impressive ability to transpose the ordinary with the extraordinary, sweeping you away into a funfair mirror world of grotesque characters and absurd situations which keep you glued to the page at every turn' Big Issue

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781408858929
Publication date: 12/03/2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781408858929
Publication date: 12th March 2015
Author: Malcolm Pryce
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Format: Hardback
Genres: Crime / Mystery, Thriller / Suspense,

About Malcolm Pryce

Malcolm Pryce was born in the UK and has spent much of his life working and travelling abroad. He has been, at various times, a BMW assembly-line worker, a hotel washer-up, a deck hand on a yacht sailing the South Seas, an advertising copywriter and the world’s worst aluminium salesman. In 1998 he gave up his day job and booked a passage on a banana boat bound for South America in order to write Aberystwyth Mon Amour. He spent the next seven years living in Bangkok, where he wrote three more novels in the series, Last Tango in Aberystwyth, ...

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