Forget about Harry’s Hogwarts Express. Forget about those Railway Children, and Thomas the Tank Engine. Forget about The Polar Express too. The best books about trains are ones involving dirty deeds done dirty cheap. For more than a century, mystery writers have been drawn to trains, railways and stations because they are wonderful places to set a crime - hordes of strangers, multiple destinations, people fleeing from the past or looking for a fresh start. You may never make eye contact with a fellow train passenger again after reading some of these thrillers.
Top 10 Train Thrillers
1. Strangers on a Train
A gripping psychological thriller from 1950 that proves you can meet dangerous people on trains.
2. The Wheel Spins
Ethel Lina White
Another thriller (1936) about meeting a stranger on a train - Hitchcock turned it into The Lady Vanishes
3. Murder on the Orient Express
First published in 1933, Hercule Poirot has a mystery to solve after Mr. Ratchett is stabbed 12 times.
4. Stamboul Train
Published a year before Murder on the Orient Express
, this is a thriller set on the Orient Express.
The Necropolis Railway
Published in 2002, a British murder mystery set in the golden age of steam.
6. The Edge
A classic thriller where the Jockey Club’s Tor Kelsey takes a transcontinental train journey across Canada.
7. La Béte Humaine
Published in 1890, this thriller is set on the railway between Paris and Le Havre
8. 4.50 From Paddington
Elspeth McGillicuddy sees a woman strangled in a passing train and Miss Marple investigates.
And Five Recommended Non-Fiction Books About Trains
The 8.55 to Baghdad
A train journey from London to Baghdad just before the Iraq War in Agatha Christie’s footsteps.
Stranger on a Train
Diski travels around the US by train but this book is really about the author’s fragile mental state.
The Old Patagonian Express
Theroux heads south from the US into Central America to Patagonia describing sights and people.
The Big Red Train Ride
The Trans-Siberian Railway covers seven time zones and 5,900 miles. Newby made the trip in 1977.
Five Railway Books That Caught Our Eye