Do you dread the hassle that comes with air travel these days? Give it up and climb aboard the iron horse for your trip west. You’ll arrive at the historic Sacramento Valley Station, recently restored to its 1926 glory, about ten blocks from the Bouchercon 2020 conference site.
What will you do as the train chugs toward the adventures of Bouchercon 2020? Elementary, my dear reader. You’ll pull out your train mysteries of course. Here are some selections for you to consider, listed by AbeBooks.com as the top ten train mysteries:
• Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith. A gripping psychological thriller from 1950 that proves you can meet dangerous people on trains.
• Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie. First published in 1933, Hercule Poirot has a mystery to solve after Mr. Ratchett is stabbed 12 times.
• Stamboul Train by Graham Greene. Published a year before Murder on the Orient Express, this is a thriller set on the Orient Express.
• The Wheel Spins by Ethel Lina White. Another thriller (1936) about meeting a stranger on a train – Hitchcock turned it into The Lady Vanishes.
• 4.50 From Paddington by Agatha Christie. Elspeth McGillicuddy sees a woman strangled in a passing train and Miss Marple investigates.
• The Necropolis Railway by Andrew Martin. Published in 2002, a British murder mystery set in the golden age of steam.
• The Edge by Dick Francis. A classic thriller where the Jockey Club’s Tor Kelsey takes a transcontinental train journey across Canada.
• La Béte Humaine by Émile Zola. Published in 1890, this thriller is set on the railway between Paris and Le Havre
• Mr. Norris Changes Trains by Christopher Isherwood. A 1935 novel set in pre-War Europe with a chance meeting on a train. Also read Goodbye to Berlin.
• The Taking of Pelham One Two Three by John Godey. A New York subway train is hijacked in this thriller from 1973 that became a movie a year later.
If you have time while you’re here at the western end of the Transcontinental Railroad, you can visit the California Railroad Museum and see the historic iron beasts for yourself.
—Virginia V. Kidd