Murder on the Safari Star by M.G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is just so good. SO good.
I’ve talked before about the Adventures On Trains series before (reviewing The Highland Falcon Thief and Kidnap on the California Comet and loving them both intensely) and so, when Macmillan sent me a review copy of Murder On The Safari Star, I was incredibly excited. It’s a brilliant series. I have pretty much negative interest in trains (I mean, I just do not find them remotely interesting) and yet here I am, living and loving every inch of these books.
They ache with adventure and every single title is an utter delight, holding not only a very particular texture and characteristic of its own, but also being beautifully produced. A key part of that is Elisa Paganelli’s gorgeous artwork that’s allowed to spread throughout the book in a loose and rich style, filling pages with light and lovely detailed work. These illustrations never feel heavy. They talk back to the story and the story talk to them and it’s all rather gorgeous. Just a beautiful, beautiful package.
Murder on the Safari Star sees Hal and his Uncle Nat on board a train in Southern Africa, crossing from from Pretoria through Zimbabwe to the Victoria Falls on the edge of Zambia. There’s a distinct Murder On The Orient Express vibe which I rather loved. Leonard and Sedgman handle this so well, giving each character their own recognisable personality so you can keep track of everybody nicely. Paganelli’s illustrations also help immensely – I was particularly fond of a beautiful double page spread detailing the carriages and everybody’s location with them. It was also good to see a note from the authors referencing the impact of the British Empire and colonialism upon the continent and the importance of understanding how the railways often came at great human cost to the local populace.
I really love how well-crafted and thoughtful these books are. There’s such a lot here to latch onto – the adventure, the friendships, the trains (even if you’re like me – these books make them interesting!), or the sheer joy of a solid, bold, and brilliantly told adventure story.
My endless thanks to the publisher for a review copy. I love these books very much.
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