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Everyone on This Train Is a Suspect


Everyone on This Train Is a Suspect

Since the unexpected success of Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone, debut writer Ernest Cunningham has been invited to join the Australian Mystery Writers’ Society crime-writing festival aboard the Ghan as the train travels the vast length of the country. He’s feeling somewhat unworthy, despite the fact that the book he reluctantly wrote following a family reunion that went horribly awry became an instant sensation. But now it’s his hope that he’ll find inspiration for a second book on this trip. So he and his girlfriend, Juliette, hop aboard.

Despite his confidence crisis as a bona fide writer, Ernest is in good company. The other invitees consist of the forensic science writer, the legal thriller writer, the literary writer (who admittedly is a bit snobbish about his place among the others), the psychological suspense writer and the blockbuster writer. With that incredible mix of talent, it sounds like great fun. Until the first body is discovered. Yes, the first. You had to believe there would be more than one.

"[I]f you want a different sort of a read that will keep your attention all the way through, EVERYONE ON THIS TRAIN IS A SUSPECT is for you."

Never fear, though. There are at least five qualified writers who solve murders every day. Fictional ones, of course, but still. Besides, Ernest is fast at work chronicling everything that happens. He knows that, in order to write another book, he really should be the one to figure out whodunit. So he keeps notes. Did I mention that the writers aren’t the only ones on this trip? Agents and fans and plus-ones have joined the festivities, thus expanding the suspect list.

Ernest starts digging into backstories. And does he ever find a lot of dirt in those stories. Who knew there would be so much scandal? Whoever chose these authors for this trip must have hungered for a wild explosion of fireworks. And they get them. At just the right time in the story (at least according to proper pacing), another murder takes place.

Meanwhile, the entire ride isn’t all about murder. There’s a little romance here and there. Or at least attempted romance. Ernest brought along a ring, with intentions to use it, of course. (As with a gun, you can’t bring it and not use it.) And Juliette has a role as more than a plus-one here. Actually, quite a big one. As for Ernest, though, we have to hope he can conduct a murder investigation a bit better than a marriage proposal from the looks of it. I mean, all is not necessarily lost, but…really, Ernest?

When our hero(?) finally brings everyone together for the denouement --- which turns into a rousing pronunciation argument --- each suspect on the train is spotlighted, and the reasons for and against his or her guilt are explained. Naturally, there are the usual protestations. I believe “I didn’t kill anyone” was said six times. Then, when the real killer is revealed, along with the motive, well --- surprise! I didn’t guess it. And I don’t think you will either. But it doesn’t end there. We have to wrap things up with Ernest and Juliette or send them their separate ways. Or have them do whatever author Benjamin Stevenson sees fit, which (if the rest of this book is any indication) will not follow norms.

So if you want a different sort of a read that will keep your attention all the way through, EVERYONE ON THIS TRAIN IS A SUSPECT is for you.

Reviewed by Kate Ayers on February 2, 2024

Everyone on This Train Is a Suspect
by Benjamin Stevenson

  • Publication Date: January 30, 2024
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books
  • ISBN-10: 006327907X
  • ISBN-13: 9780063279070