I read this immediately after finishing The Highland Falcon Thief, and it was such a treat to read both books back-to-back as this is a series I’m absolutely loving, and can’t wait to read more of.
This time Harrison Beck (Hal) is travelling aboard the California Comet with his Uncle Nat, a travel journalist, who has been invited to attend a press conference by technological entrepreneur, August Reza. Hal has barely arrived before he meets siblings Mason and Hadley, who are outgoing and friendly, and have talents which will prove useful for the mystery Hal soon finds himself intent on solving …
He also meets the rather unhappy and lonely daughter of the billionaire, August Reza. Marianne befriends Hal and warns him that she is in danger so, when he witnesses her kidnapping and finds a ransom note, he is determined to use his detective skills to save her.
Who has kidnapped Marianne, and is the motive as obvious as it appears? This story is packed full of suspects, clever clues, tantalising puzzles and intrigue, and sets up a delicious trail to follow, a trail which leads to startling revelations and danger.
I enjoyed every moment aboard The California Comet and thoroughly enjoyed both the mystery and the description of the places the journey takes them, especially the Rocky Mountains. It really makes me yearn to travel this route aboard the real-life California Zephyr and, hopefully, one day I’ll be able to do just that.
I loved the rich assortment of characters, and how they could all be perceived as shady from the bearded-dragon owner Adie Cabbage to the brief-case carrying Seymour Hart to the wrestling lover, Gene Jackson. I also loved Hadley’s magic tricks and how these were used to help in the investigation of the crime but, most of all, I LOVE the way Hal uses his sketchbook to gather and analyse evidence, and how his drawings are perfectly captured by illustrator Elisa Paganelli.
Hal is a wonderful character who is quick to develop friendships with others. He is naturally curious, extremely observant and full of determination, all of which are perfect attributes for a budding detective. Even when adults are not prepared to listen to him or take him seriously, he perseveres and follows the evidence.
This is a brilliantly clever, exciting and engrossing mystery which will undoubtedly take its readers on a wonderful adventure, puzzling and searching for clues, as they try to solve this classic whodunnit.
Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for an e-ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.