This is a book in the ‘Steam Detective’ series by Andrew Martin.
Detective Sergeant Jim Stringer is The Steam Detective though in this book, he’s in the army during World War I.
This is as much a book about the conditions in the First World War at the time of the various campaigns around The Somme as it is a crime novel. In fact Jim Stringer has someone confess they performed the crime in question but this doesn’t stop the Military Police accusing Stringer of the crime later in the book.
The great and small details in the book are excellent. The conditions the soldiers endured during The Battle of the Somme including the number of ways in which they were in danger are graphically illustrated. The shells fired by the Germans didn’t always contain High Explosive. Sometimes shrapnel shells cut people in half. The intricate details of how narrow-gauge steam engines of the time were operated by the driver are also lovingly provided by the author. This combination makes the war scenes compulsive reading as I learned things I didn’t know.
Julian Worker is a writer of travel books, mystery stories, and fictional lists. His work can be seen here.