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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

The Somme Stations


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First of all, this is a fictional story but with a WW1 setting.

It's the 7th in Martin's 'Jim Stringer' series, which has a railway detective as the main character. He's based at York railway station. The earlier books are set in the pre-WW1 period, but this one starts in 1914 and ends in late 1916.

The book starts in 1916 but then soon goes in flashback to the start of the story in York station in 1914, and the main characters are introduced. They then form into a Pals batallion and set off to Spurn Point for training, where the first (?) murder happens. The action then moves to France, and the 1916 Somme battlefields, before then being set on the series of light railways which fed the front line with the shells for the guns. Finally, the resolution of the story takes place in a hospital in Ilkley.

I had read the first of the Jim Stringer books, but found it rather uninvolving, so hadn't read any of the others. However, this one had me gripped from the start and I read it in record time.

The pictures formed in my mind were quite dark and gloomy, and the characterisations of the odd bunch of men in Jim's unit was well done adding to this. All quite a Dickensian feel. The setting on the Western Front on the light railway was excellent - it's not just another story set in the trenches, but in a different (though physically close) environment. Very atmospheric.

A couple of things jarred - the coincidence that their only trench fighting was on July 1st... and the coincidental meeting with 'the Chief' in Albert on a night off. Not sure that the latter added a key piece to the jigsaw - perhaps it did and I missed it.

So overall - 10/10 from me, and I'm going to catch up with the other (non-WW1) books in the series.

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I've quite liked the author when he has appeared on radio and tv, but like you was disappointed with the first Jim Stringer novel 'The Necropolis Railway' and haven't read the others. However I'll read this oneon your recommendation.

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