Book Review, Middle Grade Fiction

Danger at Dead Man’s Pass by MG Leonard & Sam Sedgman

Hal and his Uncle Nat are back with the fourth Adventures on Trains mystery! This time, they find themselves journeying across Europe to the mountains of Germany to find the answers to an old family curse, an unexplained death and a missing will. They’ve packed plenty of intuition, deduction and determination to see them through.

I had the absolute pleasure of reading this story while listening to my children play the European Ticket to Ride board game. They were building trains from London to Paris to Berlin while Hal and Nat were making the same journey. I know they’re going to love listening to this story at bedtime when the audiobook becomes available – we often have The Highland Falcon Thief, Kidnap on the California Comet and Murder on the Safari Star playing in various bedrooms each evening.

The first three Adventures on Trains book are fantastic with mysteries that captivate the reader and keep them guessing right to the end. Danger at Dead Man’s Pass has something more. There’s a maturity and a darker, more sinister edge to this mystery. Hal is growing up and taking on more responsibility. There’s more at stake. Danger is coming closer and there’s no room for error. Uncle Nat isn’t quite himself, adding an extra element of mystery to an already complex story.  With so many suspects and a cold, calculating villain, this is an unputdownable adventure. Elisa Paganelli’s incredible illustrations convey the mood of the story perfectly. In an intriguing twist, Hal must do his drawing in secret, trying to capture only the most important elements of the mystery. This makes each drawing so powerful.

Danger at Dead Man’s Pass is full of fascinating geography tinged with history as they travel across Europe. Hal learns the value of being bilingual as he adapts to multiple languages and cultures. The electric Eurostar is so different from the steam and diesel trains of their earlier adventures. The journey through the Channel Tunnel is exciting and the narrow-gauge steam railway of the Brocken Mountains is completely engaging. The links to Goethe’s Fauste brings a whole other element to the story that will challenge young readers and encourage them to explore links to literature. It really is such a multi-layered story that is a step up from the already brilliant books that have come before.

I won’t say anymore as I don’t want to give away even a hint of what’s inside this tangled mystery that will keep you reading right to the very end!

Thank you to Macmillan Children’s Books for this outstanding book!

Publishing: 16th September 2021

Click on the cover below to find out more or purchase on-line from Amazon.

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