Kidnap on the California Comet by M.G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman

M.G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman are back with another rip-roaring Adventures on Trains book. In the second book in the series we jump onboard a train journey across America in Kidnap on the California Comet.

Hal once again joins his Uncle Nat on a train journey to remember. Uncle Nat is covering a press conference on board the California Comet, travelling from Chicago to Emeryville, and he asks Hal to accompany him. After his last holiday with Uncle Nat, foiling the plans of a jewel thief, Hal is eager to go to America. What starts off as a fun holiday, with new friends and magic tricks, soon turns into another mystery, with a billionaire’s daughter being kidnapped. There is no shortage of suspects, as Hal has met some unusual characters on board the California Comet. Using his sharp observation skills and working with his new friends, Mason and Hadley, Hal will need to solve the case before the train reaches the end of the line.

This series is so much fun! Packed full of action, adventure, mystery and new friends, this is the perfect book for any reader. You can’t help getting caught up in the story and whisked away on the adventure with Hal, Uncle Nat and their friends. Reading this book made me once again want to go on this train journey.

Mason and Hadley are great new characters who bring a different dynamic to the story and special skills that become important to the story. All of the characters are nicely fleshed out so there are plenty of red herrings to keep you guessing. Like the first book, one of my favourite aspects of this story is the relationship between Hal and Uncle Nat. I love the trust that Nat has in Hal, even if Hal is a little reluctant to share all of his findings with Nat.

Elisa Paganelli’s illustrations are once again superb. I love the way that Elissa captures the characteristics and features of each character and makes them look like they are suspects. My favourite illustration in this book is the one of Hal sitting in their roomette with Uncle Nat, telling him everything. You can tell that Hal has his uncle’s complete attention.

I can’t wait for more Adventures on trains! Luckily we only have to wait until February for Murder on the Safari Star.

The Highland Falcon Thief by M.G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman

I love trains and I love stories set on trains. I love mystery stories and I love books by M.G. Leonard (author of the wonderful Beetle Boy Trilogy). All of these things are smooshed together in the latest series by M.G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman – Adventures on Trains. I’ve had the first book in the series, The Highland Falcon Thief, sitting on my shelf for a while now and keep meaning to read it. The second book has just been released so what better time to start the series. I was immediately swept up in this journey that kept me on the edge of my seat.

Hal’s Mum is due to have a baby so he gets whisked away on a special train journey with his Uncle Nat. They are taking the final journey of the Highland Falcon, Britain’s most famous steam train. Uncle Nat is a travel writer who has been on some of the most interesting train journeys in the world, but nothing will compare to the drama that unfolds on this journey. Hal, at first, thinks the journey will be kind of boring but he couldn’t be more wrong. An item of jewellery goes missing and the accusations start flying. This is just the beginning of a string of thefts that include a large jewel belonging to the royal family. Hal and his new friend Lenny start to investigate the thefts and try to discover who the thief is. They’ll need to pay attention to the little details and find the culprit before they reach the end of their journey.

The Highland Falcon Thief is a captivating mystery that has you guessing right up to the end. There are shifty characters, a stowaway, stunning scenery, delicious meals, and some very clever kids who put the police to shame. The story is action-packed, with plenty of sneaking around, and a particularly nail-biting scene on the outside of the train. The descriptions are so fantastic that you can hear the rush of steam through the engine’s whistle and smell the soot. You can clearly picture the lavish details of the carriages. Every detail of this story made me desperate for a train journey like this, with my own compartment. You can tell that both M.G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman have had a lot of fun writing this book and have both brought their interests and knowledge of trains to the story.

One of the things that I love about M.G. Leonard’s books is the depth of her adult characters, especially those related to the main characters. I especially loved Uncle Nat as he clearly wants to share this unique and wonderful experience with his nephew. He always listens to Hal and tries to help him work through his problems or theories. You’re never really sure who the thief is until it’s revealed at the end, so the authors do a really great job of making you believe it could be nearly anyone. Uncle Nat himself even suggests that it could be him as he has no alibi.

Elisa Paganelli adds extra class to the story with her superb illustrations. Her cover makes the book jump off the shelf and her interior illustrations really bring the characters alive. Elisa’s illustrations also show us the interior and exterior of the Highland Falcon. Hal is an artist who loves to draw so Elisa puts herself into Hal’s shoes by drawing what he sees.

I can’t wait for more Adventures on Trains with Hal, Lenny and Uncle Nat! The second book in the series, Kidnap on the California Comet, has just been released so I won’t have to wait long to board the next adventure.