Cover Image: Death on the Trans-Siberian Express

Death on the Trans-Siberian Express

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

This was an interesting read. I really enjoyed the characterization of Olga , the intricacies of her job and the wee hedgehog she cares for. I was also completely drawn in by the depiction of Siberia. While I’ve read a number of novels in similar settings none have the same gift as evoking the surroundings. Yet I found some of the plot and characters hard to follow through, and it was difficult to finish. Sorry I really wanted to love it.
Was this review helpful?
Oh dear, this started off quite well but it soon went downhill for me and wasn’t at all what I expected.  Very well researched and great descriptions but nothing to really keep my interest up.  Sort of entertaining, but overly complex I thought and I kept getting a bit lost.  I did like Olga (and her hedgehog) and I would probably try the next book in the series. Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for the ARC.
Was this review helpful?
The forward publicity for this book made it sound like it was going to be right up my street but I was disappointed. The story starts off OK and paints a believable picture of life in modern day rural Siberia with believable characters. However, once the investigation started I found the ease with which the story unfolded to be laughable.
Not for me I’m afraid.
Was this review helpful?
A murder mystery set in deepest, snowiest Russia?  The Trans-Siberian Express?  A tough female protagonist?  Sign me up NOW!  Thanks to NetGalley and Constable for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

The story follows Olga Pushkin, a railway engineer (Third Class) who works in a little railway hut in a tiny and remote village called Roslazny.  Along with her pet hedgehog (a random but delightful addition), she lives a quiet life and dreams of being a writer and going to Tomsk State University.  With all her money being spent on her father's drinking habit, it is fair to say she is going nowhere...until her world is rocked by a murder and an opportunity for her to take action.

Regular readers of my blog will know that I'm both fascinated by Russia and love a snowy, inhospitable location - the latter makes for a great setting for a mystery, but a less good holiday destination (ask my kids...!)  This book ticked those boxes for me, although I was slightly disappointed by the fact that there was really not much action on the Trans-Siberian Express itself - instead, we stay in small-town Roslazny and the nearby railway station.

However, it is a fascinating look at small-town Russia and felt really well-researched,  The claustrophobia around being stuck in a place where everyone knows you is well-realised in the novel and there are lots of glimpses of modern-day Russia in attitudes and sentiments that still don't feel entirely modern to a British reader - this is a society that has a dark undercurrent of corruption, lashings of alcohol dependency and some distinctly old-fashioned views on gender.

That said, this isn't a depressing book and Olga Pushkin is a likeable and strong character at its heart.  She is much put-upon by her family and friends as the capable, kind one - so it is heartening that she has good humour and interesting character development throughout.

The one drawback for me was the fact that the mystery is concluded relatively early on in the novel.  It's well plotted and the denouement is managed cleverly, but there is still a lot of novel left.  This takes the form of a lengthy tying up of loose ends - all very pleasing and packed with authentic details of Olga's world, but I did wish it was more concise.  

Overall, I genuinely loved the setting of this novel and wholly enjoyed being immersed in the Russian town, lifestyles and attitudes.  I sincerely hope that we shall be able to read more about Olga in the future - but I hope too that there is slightly more of the mystery element.  If the balance could shift more towards the murder - with Olga as a strong, good-humoured investigator - then this series would be absolute gold.
Was this review helpful?
Oh wow, where do I begin. I had such high expectations for this and they all fell flat. I thought this was a cozy mystery, it really wasn't. The incessant inner dialogue of Olga got grating after a while, the proper dialogue with others was bad and the plot was just nuts. I hate mysteries when there is no proper motive, the motivation for the murder would fit better in a hard-boiled thriller and not in this book. An absolute miss for me.
Was this review helpful?
This is a great book. Olga is a very interesting character. It was a very interesting setting for the book. It has a nice plot and a large cast of characters who are all extremely unique.
Was this review helpful?
This book had a slow start but picked up pace in the second half. I found all the Russian names quite tricky but I really liked the characters. I felt that the ending was left quite open as the relationship between the two main characters could be explored a lot more.
Was this review helpful?
Olga Pushkin has dreams beyond being a railway engineer (third class) in the small Russian town of Roslazny, an ice-bound settlement in the middle of Siberia. Her ambition is to become a best-selling author – Find Your Rail Self : 100 Life Lessons From The Trans-Siberian Railway – is going well, and she almost has enough money saved to study literature at University. But life is about to throw some obstacles in her way.

Poison-pen letters accusing Olga of taking advantage of an old man and rumours of a Baba Yaga, a murderous witch who lurks in the frozen forest, are disturbing the local peace, but that is nothing compared to the day when Olga is knocked unconscious by a body thrown from the Trans-Siberian Express – an American tourist with his throat cut and his mouth filled with coins. With the help of the newly-arrived Sergeant Vassily Marushkin, Olga finds herself with a new ambition – tracking down a murderer. But with no motive and no leads, is this one challenge too much?

Well, this is an odd one. While the author is Scottish, the setting seems almost like an historical novel as it is completely unfamiliar to me – it’s set in the present day but Siberia is such a different environment than what we are used to that it was, to me, deeply fascinating. The town is populated by a diverse cast of characters, all coming across with depth, in particular the lead, Olga, and Marushkin, and the feel of the whole thing is stunningly authentic and atmospheric.

There are multiple plots going on here – and by the way, don’t read the blurb as one major twist is mentioned in it – a number of which don’t relate to the murder plot and are more about the lives of the people in the village. Now, that isn’t a criticism in any way, but I can imagine that people who pick this up primarily for the murder plot (which despite the title, is centred in the town) might be disappointed when the story veers into what could be considered soap opera territory.

At the end of the day, the mystery was a bit too predictable for me – despite the large cast, there aren’t many suspects due to the fact that the death occurred on the train, not in the town.

Regardless, this was still a satisfying and enjoyable read, a look into a world that I have no knowledge of at all.

Death On The Trans-Siberian Express is out now in hardback and ebook. Many thanks to the publisher for the review e-copy.
Was this review helpful?
I was surprised to discover that this was more of a slow burning, demanding read than a pacey mystery story. The descriptions of the Russian landscape and weather were very good, but it seems to me that the author was trying a bit too hard to write a "Russian" novel as might have been written by, for example, Dostoevsky, with more physical, mental and emotional suffering, and psychological angst than I had wanted to be shared with me!
With thanks to the publisher and to NetGalley for giving me a copy of the book in exchange for this honest review.
Was this review helpful?
There was a real sense of place and space in this murder mystery which initially made me think that it was a Russian book in translation. Part of that is a slightly over-written air in the first chapter, slightly off turns of phrases and of course heavy use of the patronymic. For some reason I have drifted into reading a lot of books based in Russia in the last year or so, and whilst the prose style here settled down that slightly odd opening chapter actually worked for the novel. Because this is basically a medium cosy mystery set in Siberia. We have a spunky and uinlucky in love protagonist, an attractive but unobtainable cop and a murder which is only one of many problems our lead Olga Pushkin is dealing with (her terrible father, a poison pen letter and her brothers dishonourable discharge from the Army being of equal worth). When we finally get to the murder / murders it is perhaps not as cosy as all that, but this is Russia, everything goes big.

Olga is a terrific creation, and it is clear Farrington wants to do more with her. A lively railway worker with pretensions to be a writer (the repeated gag of her self help book "Find Your Rail Self: 100 Life Lessons From The TransSiberian Railway" is most welcome). It also does a good job to showing Putin's Russia as another slab in the history of bad deals for Siberia, and of course one the locals broadly celebrate. The mystery itself could have been snappier, and as solved remarkably early in the book, admittedly there were ongoing more soap like problems that I thought my drift on to a later book but all gets wrapped up here. And perhaps there are one too many quirky cutesy touches - her pet hedgehog causing a rift between her and the attractive cop because he has a pet ferret being a step too far. 

Well written, fun and with an excess of Siberian bad vodka flavour, Death On The Trans-Siberian Express was a quick refreshing read and a reminder that cosy mysteries can do more than just be cosy. I'll be looking out for the promised trip to Mongolia with Olga promised at the end, and hopefully to Tomsk University - the Oxford of West Siberia. further along.
Was this review helpful?
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a free ARC of this book. I have chosen to write this honest review voluntarily.
This book is the first in the series so the first 15% or so of the book provides background about Olga's family and friends, her home in Russia, her job and her ambition to be a great author. The area she lives in has become rather rundown due to economic difficulties creating job losses and poverty, and there seems to be a general air of hopelessness over everyone. The writing was a good standard but the characters did not engage my interest so I did not read any further. It is not the usual light style of cosy mystery and despite my lack of enjoyment I think other readers are likely to find the detail and depth to their liking.
Was this review helpful?
This book was far too slow and ponderous for my taste sadly. I didn’t like the writing style, and found it very difficult to connect with the characters, or to care about them. This was a DNF, not for me.
My thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for my advance copy of this title.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC of this book. 
The setting is fabulous and the book well researched.
I did like Olga as a character. Sadly this book was too slow going for me and I found myself losing interest and having to reread pages. Such a shame
Was this review helpful?
Refreshing, witty and sensitively written, I loved the story of Olga Pushkin, track engineer (third class) in the little town of Roslazny on the TransSiberian Express. It will grip you and not let you go! Olga is an amazing woman with a huge heart, a questioning mind and a creative yen to be the next big Russian writer. In her small, remote town, however, her dreams are thwarted by her alcoholic father and narrowminded townsfolk, until a series of events coinciding with a new police detective lead her life down a much more exciting path as she becomes involved in a murder investigation. The book is really well researched, with a definite love of railways, and we're left hoping Olga's life will lead to more inspiring adventures. BRAVO 5 STARS
Was this review helpful?
Death on the Trans-Siberian Express by C.J. Farrington
And now to snowy icy Russia, Olga Pushkin is a Railway Engineer (Third Class!) in a small Russian town that is serviced by the Trans-Siberian Express, she spends her time in the rail hut on the side of the railway with her hedgehog Dimitri and her writings.
One ordinary day, she hears a thump and the shutting of a railway door, she turns and is knocked unconscious by a man falling from the train, he is an American tourist who has had his throat cut and mouth stuffed with 10 Ruble coins. Another death follows and so do the police, Sergeant Vassily Marushkin comes to investigate but finds himself falsely imprisoned for these murders and now it is up to Olga to investigate.
I WANT MORE OLGA PUSHKIN.. I love her, she is a person who tries so hard but so many people are against her, she is quietly mourning her beloved mother, her father is really mean to her and her aunt is really ungrateful to her, but Olga has spirt and is a good person and gumption that she is doing the right thing and this stands her in good stead.
This is a solid mystery and the ending of the book is neatly set up for book 2, the characters are engaging and you are rooting for good things for Olga.. I personally would love to see romance with Vassily but I am not sure that will happen as he is still in love with his missing wife.
The story is great and the mystery is tied up completely at the end. The setting is gorgeous in Siberia and the little town of Roslazny  draws you in and is really important in this cosy mystery.. its quirky and that is a big part of its appeal and it does leave you asking for more…
Now Bring me book 2..
#DeathontheTransSiberianExpress #NetGalley #Siberia #cosy #mystery
Was this review helpful?
As I started I though this book might be a disappointment, but it was anything but, A cleverly crafted witty narratuve beautifully displaying life in a small Siberian village under Putin, full of corrupt police and officials. The heroin, Olga Pushkin, a railway worker, third class cum prospective novelist finds herself solving crimes, dealing with the petty squabbles of the village misfits but also solving major crimes and catching serial killers.
It is a delught, full of humour and throughly entertaining.
Was this review helpful?
I really enjoyed this book. The depiction of life is Siberia was so immersive, I had to turn the heating up. The tale of Olga should had been depressing as her life was such a grind but it was not. Her kindness and optimism were highlights of the book for me. One of my favourite books of the year.
Was this review helpful?
Olga Pushkin is a third-class railway engineer in the depths of Siberia who spends most of her time dreaming of becoming a writer when one day, she is hit by a dead body thrown from the Trans-Siberian Express. This is the starting point for a complex mystery involving political manoeuvring and police corruption. 
The setting is amazing. I loved the details about life in Siberia and the tiny town of Roslazny together with its collection of misfit inhabitants. Olga is a brilliantly drawn character and we really get to know her as a person.
The mystery was interesting and well plotted but quite slow moving and there were a few times when I almost lost interest in the book. Overall though, I did enjoy it and will look out for a sequel.
Thank you to Net Galley and publishers Little Brown  for this ARC.
Was this review helpful?
With an incredibly good, and well drawn, main character,  this book is full of humour. The novel is slow at the beginning but is well worth reading, because the novel does not remain slow. Highly recommended. Thank you to netgalley and the publishers for giving me a copy of the book.
Was this review helpful?
Delightful, Atmospheric Mystery….
A delightful, atmospheric and engaging mystery and the first in the Olga Pushkin Mystery series. With a compelling premise, this debut is littered with an engaging and entertaining cast of well crafted and often charming characters and with a solid mystery at its’ heart. A thoroughly good read.
Was this review helpful?