Written by M.G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman, Illustrated by Elisa Paganelli, Publishing February 2021 by Macmillan Children’s

In true Adventures on Trains style, Hal and Uncle Nat are travelling together, not looking for a mystery but with the hope that one occurs. There are a few storylines working together to form an intriguing plot that runs the course of the book and the train journey!

Hal is back to being Sherlock Da Vinci, spending his time detecting and drawing, watching and making acute observations. Hal is an excellent judge of character and this talent continues to serve him well.

On this particular journey, there is a rather onerous man that no one seems to like. Causing arguments and tempers to flare, Mervyn Crosby is unliked, harsh and rude. Even his daughter has had enough of him.

The Safari Star is an incredibly powerful train that can travel through the hot desert sand, and it carries its water and coal, meaning it can go for longer stretches. Janice, the large engine, is described and drawn brilliantly, as are the rest of the illustrations by Elisa Paganelli.

The illustrations are part of the highlight for me as a reader. Hal works meticulously on his drawings and they help him, and the reader, determine the alibis and whereabouts of the characters.

I was enthralled throughout the journey on the Safari Star- in part due to the mystery needing solving but also due to the safari element and aspects of conservation that are touched upon.

If anything, these Adventures on Trains spark my inner railway enthusiast and make me want to hop on board. We travelled by train through Italy on our honeymoon and it was such a brilliant way to see the country. I can imagine the Victoria Falls, the game reserves and the savannah being looked at from the windows of a luxury train.

I can attest to the brilliance of the three Adventures on Trains books and there is a snippet of book 4 at the end and it does sound intriguing and I cannot wait to see the mystery awaiting as well as the incredible illustrations!

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