It is mid December 1935 as Funeral Train: A Dust Bowl Mystery by Laurie Loewenstein begins
and life has been brutal in the panhandle of Oklahoma with the ongoing Dust
Bowl and the Great Depression. The good people of Vermillion, Oklahoma, and the
surrounding area are facing adversity on a daily basis and hanging on by their
Things get way worse for many one night
as the incoming passenger train derails a little outside of town. Some are
lucky enough to be killed outright in a crash. Others, suffering horrendous
burns, will make it to the hospital only to hours and days later succumb to
their injuries. Then there are those that are severely injured and survive the
initial disaster, but may not dodge infections and other consequences.
Such is the fate of Etha Jennings, wife
of Sheriff Temple Jennings. She wakes in the overwhelmed hospital and grateful
to be alive. She knows she is one of the lucky ones so far though the injury to
her leg is significant and serious.
For Sheriff Temple Jennings, the hours
after the crash were the hardest he has ever experienced. In the aftermath of
the crash, he knew she was on the train, but had been unable to find her. Trying
to find her, help the survivors by organizing a rescue operation, and run an
investigation into what went wrong was quite a lot for one man to tackle. It helped
that he had a good deputy to help organize things and get him focused, Etha was
soon found and on the way to the hospital, and it was soon clear that the crash
Then came the murder.
A less than popular local is soon found
murdered just hours after the crash. Living close to the railroad tracks means
the person might have seen who caused the crash. Maybe the killer thought he or
she would be exposed? Or maybe something else caused the killing? It is going
to be up to Sheriff Jennings, his deputy, and a railroad detective in town
investigating the crash, to put the pieces together to figure out the who and
why of it all.
This is the second book in the series
that began with the very good Death
of A Rainmaker: A Dust Bowl Mystery. Those events are occasionally
briefly referenced here though one could read this book first if one was so
A complicated read with multiple
plotlines and a cast of characters, Funeral Train: A Dust Bowl Mystery
is another excellent historical mystery by Lavine Loewenstein. With few words,
the author paints a vivid picture that slams readers into a fully realized
fictional world. Much is at work here on multiple levels and the wait for book
two has been well worth it. Strongly recommended.
My reading copy came from the publisher
with no expectation of a review. The book comes out next Tuesday, 10/4, and is
one of many coming out that day.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2022