Illustrated by Marco Guadalupi.
Published by Scholastic, 2018.
The Secret of the Night Train is a brilliant detective story. It has lots of twists and red herrings and it really kept me guessing. It’s an exciting adventure and a real page-turner of a book.
Eleven-year-old Max makes a journey across Europe from Paris to Istanbul by train. She is going to visit her great aunt Elodie and she’s being chaperoned on the journey by an eccentric nun, Sister Marguerite. Before long, the two of them are caught up in the mystery of the missing heartbreak diamond, which has recently been stolen from a high security vault in Paris. Max is thrown into a world of would-be-diamond smugglers, thieves and undercover detectives, where everyone on board the train is a suspect.
Max is a carefully nuanced and utterly relatable protagonist: brave, bright and quick-thinking, yet, at times, homesick and unsure of herself. You warm to her and root for her right from the start. Sylvia Bishop has created a whole cast of fabulous supporting characters too, from the pot plant carrying nun to the fiercely impatient Ester Rosenkrantz and the inept and peevish police superintendent Commandant Le Goff.
It’s not just the characters who are portrayed in such fabulous detail, the countries and cities that Max travels through and stops off at are depicted in glorious technicolour too. You get a real sense of the individual character of each city and feel like you’re there alongside Max. Slyvia Bishop also makes astute (and witty) observations of train travel and train passengers and perfectly captures the excitement of travelling on a sleeper train.
The Secret of the Night Train is a thrilling journey packed full of humour, tension and drama. Grab yourself a copy and enjoy the ride!
Suitable for children aged 8+
Thank you to Scholastic for sending me this book to review.