I have been in love with trains for a long time, and always wanted to make such a big trip with trains ever since I read Hercule Poirot Murder on the Orient Express! My motion-sickness would make it a bit harder to travel that much, but still I kept dreaming about it. So I couldn’t resist this book that promised not only travelling by train but also mystery and fun characters. Plus, another reason I couldn’t resist this book was because of Sylvia Bishop. She writes such delightful stories, I loved her book about a girl and her elephant and about a bookshop.
Meet Max, or Maximilienne. Yep, I would also shorten my name to Max if that was my full name. She is a sweet, dreamy girl who loves hiding up the attic in her favourite arm chair and reading books. I loved that she took the chance of a life time, that it was truly her decision, and that she wasn’t just shipped off by her parents. And as the story continues we see her grow immensely as a character. In the beginning she is already a curious little one, but with each new mystery, each new clue she grows and becomes better and more curious. I loved the plans she made so that people wouldn’t notice her, and how well skilled she was at detecting and clue hunting. Not to mention she gets stronger, in the beginning she has a bit of a case of missing her home, but we see her get over that, or at least feel better.
It helps that she has a fantastic person with her in the train, namely Sister Marguerite. I loved this Sister instantly, but with a new revelation she swiftly became my second favourite character (after Max). I loved how sweet and caring she was towards Max, but also trusted her enough with her secret and let Max help her out. The many times I have read books featuring adults who just wouldn’t give kids the time of the day, or treated them like they were just playing and wouldn’t take them seriously, I can’t even count it on my hands any more. But Marguerite? She encourages Max, talks to her, and gives her praise when she does something amazing. She even gives her assignments.
The mystery/the whodunnit/what each of the suspects had to do with the case was very interesting, and I was keeping notes in my head. I had tons of fun seeing if I could figure it all out, but I have to say that there were enough twists and revelations to throw you off scent and have you try to figure it all out again. I just adore it when authors make the mystery something truly good. Not easily guessable, not easily solvable. I love those.
The travelling was fun, and I loved seeing the countries and cities the train visited/passed by.
The ending was a delight, and oh my at all the great plans, the revelations, and seeing the whole puzzle click into place. I loved what Max did for Rupert, that is really sweet of her. I hope Max had a fabulous journey and I hope she is able to go on many many more travels. This time with more visiting cities, and of course many more mysteries as she will make a fine detective one day.
The book is also covered in illustrations and I just ADORE their style. I loved seeing the characters, the small bits here and there, sceneries, and more. I will have to check out this illustrator and see what else they did.
All in all, this was one book I couldn’t stop reading, I just had to keep going. I wanted to know what happened to the diamond, who had it, what would happen in Istanbul.
I would recommend this one to everyone. Train travel, mystery, diamonds and jewels, fun and interesting characters, and more. Come with Max while she travels to Istanbul!