Adventures on Trains: Kidnap on the California Comet

Adventures on Trains: Kidnap on the California Comet
M.G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman, illustrated by Elise Pagnelli
Macmillan Children’s Books

In this sequel to The Highland Falcon Thief 12 year old Hal Beck is on another railway trip. Now he’s with his journalist Uncle Nat, embarking on a three day journey from Chicago to San Francisco.

Before they’ve even boarded the California Comet, Hal has his sketchbook out and has started recording what he sees. He’s also met up with Mason and his sister Hadley who tells him later on that she practises magic.

Shortly after, he meets Marianne, daughter of August Reza, the billionaire technology entrepreneur whose press conference Uncle Nat is to report on.

Hal encounters a host of other unusual characters, including Seymour Hart who always wants to stay close to his briefcase, and teenager Ryan whose speech is hampered by the dental braces he wears, but wants to communicate with Hal all the same.

As the train speeds on across the plains, Hal feels increasingly uneasy; something strange and possibly dangerous is going on.

Around 7.30pm, Hal sees a girl in a yellow dress being dragged into the boot of a waiting car that drives away into the night. Seemingly, Marianne has been kidnapped.

Can he possibly discover exactly what is going on? Perhaps, with the help of his new friends, Hadley and Mason.

Full of mystery and intrigue, this cracking story is full of interesting details and dropped hints.

It’s not only Hal (aka Sherlock da Vinci) who has an extremely deft hand when it comes to sketching: Elisa Paganelli’s smashing, sometimes finely detailed illustrations add considerably to the atmosphere of the twisting, turning adventure.

Lovers of trains and detective stories especially, will devour this; so too will anyone who loves a gripping yarn.

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