With her first adult book, Night Train to Berlin, Margaret de Rohan has written yet another page turner. She tackles head-on contemporary and. morally complicated problems whilst always maintaining the pace and excitement of an intriguing crime thriller. Her grandson, Nat, also intervenes at pivotal moments to keep her ‘on message’.
The extremes promulgated by religious intolerance and racism which result in terrorist acts of great violence and the culpability, or otherwise, of those in authority to effectively protect the populace from the consequences of these actions, is a strong theme running throughout Night Train to Berlin.
However the author also appears intent, in the persona of the tolerant, fair-playing Megs, in combining the role of educator with that of a sometimes reluctant protagonist in a rip-roaring detective novel. And, she does so successfully.
But there’s humour in this book too; often supplied by interludes which feature minor characters, and these serve to effectively balance the tension.
The comforting reappearance of the familiar characters of Philippe Maigret, Georges Martin Patrick Evremond and Chief Inspector Clive Scott from Scotland Yard – a born and incorrigible raconteur if ever there was one - so prominent in previous books, coupled with the introduction of the curiously ambivalent ex-spy David Quinn, continue to engage us throughout the book. And so does the unexpected appearance of a long-forgotten man from Megs’ past.
This latest book in the Inspector Maigret Series is, perhaps, Margaret de Rohan's best. It is a thoroughly riveting read.
Who would have thought that a stranger’s question: Are you going to Scarborough Fair - could have such far-reaching consequences?
by Carolyn Wilden
I’ve read all of Margaret de Rohan’s books and this one – her first adult book – is definitely the best yet. The scope and scale are breath-taking – international politics, terrorism, secret services etc – and all woven together in a highly readable way with her usual panache, humour and style.
No loose ends left untied – well, except maybe for the enigmatic ending! What a lot of painstaking research she must have done too. It certainly shows. And I love her literary device of saying “And she did.” , “Nor would it.”, etc. straight after anticipatory statements. A good stylistic nicety. Great to see the return of the dashing Patrick Evremond and to get to “know” Nat a little bit (charming boy!).
I am more than happy to write this review but fear that it won’t live up to the book! I mean in the sense that it won’t be clever enough. Such a clever book deserves the widest possible readership and reviews from real intellectuals. I’m not being self-deprecating - what I mean is that professors of international affairs should be reviewing it! Anyway, it truly is glorious and well-deserves the five stars that I’ve given it.
by Christine Birch
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, particularly the way the author built the suspense and set the scenes of all the action. It was easy to become engrossed with the characters and I found the storyline attention-grabbing to the point of not wanting to stop reading.
by Amazon Reviewer
Five stars are not enough for this excellent book. Great story. I read it in two sittings. I would have read it in one, but I was interrupted. Hard to put down. Loved it.
by January Gray
Margaret de Rohan has written books featuring the same characters but for children, this book is her first one aimed at an adult market and it has certainly worked.
Megan is the wife of Chief Inspector of the French Police, Philippe Maigret and, at the beginning of the book, is planning a short visit to Berlin with her 13-year-old grandson Nat. Just before she is due to leave she is in Les Invalides when she is approached by a complete stranger who asks her ‘Are you going to Scarborough Fair?’ Megan automatically replies ‘Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme’ the obvious reply that most of us of a certain age would say remembering the Simon and Garfunkel version of the English Folk song.
The stranger walks away without a further word but a short time later is seriously injured in a hit and run accident. When he is interviewed by Chief Inspector Maigret in hospital he keeps repeating warnings of an event scheduled to happen in Berlin on the Ides of March. The plot thickens when a photograph of the meeting shows Akram in the background, a man who works in a local boulangerie but as Maigret discovers has previous links with the Jordanian secret service.
Despite Maigret’s foreboding Megan is determined that she will not give up her trip and her relationship with her husband is one of the enjoyable areas of the book, despite his lofty position, he appears to be very under the thumb where his wife is concerned! However, his worst fears are confirmed when Megan and Nat disappear from the overnight train from Paris to Berlin triggering both Maigret and his English counterpart Chief Inspector Clive Scott to borrow a car from the British Embassy and make a wild dash to Berlin.
The plot is further complicated by the appearance of an American Tom Aitkens who is not only the Chief Executive Office of a company called Scarborough Fair Incorporated but has also had an affair with Megan many years before when she was doing Work Experience in New York and whom he is still in love with.
The actual plot, to blow up and injure many victims including members of the German parliament is very topical and the author is very good at tackling this type of terrorism that is unfortunately part of our world today. However, she is still able to maintain humour within the story in her characterisations which helps to mitigate the build-up of tension.
The ending was very satisfactory although there was scope for a further book about these characters and I hope there will be. The only real negative for me was her way of ending chapters with three word phrases like ‘And they were’ or ‘And they did’ which did actually annoy me and I did not think it added to the book. For me it was just a cliché. However, apart from this, I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone. A very interesting plot and well written.
Breakaway Reviewers received a copy of the book to review.
A dark boys own thriller set in Paris and Berlin featuring Chief Inspector Maigret.
Very highly recommended.
I was given a digital copy by the publisher Troubador / Matador via Netgalley in return for an honest unbiased review.