Book Review: “Murder on the Golden Arrow” by Magda Alexander

(A big thank you to NetGalley for supplying a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review!)

Earlier this year, my husband, Alex, and I planned out our honeymoon. We decided to include a 16-hour scenic train ride on the famous Zephyr Amtrak train. This train’s route is known to be one of the most picturesque in the United States, and we’d both been looking forward to it for months.

The appeal of train travel lies in the romance of the landscape, the intimacy of the train cars, and the simple excitement of seeing new sights without worrying about driving. To get me in the mood for our trip, I chose to read “Murder on the Golden Arrow: A Kitty Worthington Mystery” by Magda Alexander.

Marketed as a “1920s historical cozy mystery,” this fun, quick read was worth every page. We’re first introduced to the capricious Kitty, a young English woman whose mother is preparing for her to make her “debut” into society (think lots of dancing, date requests, and frilly dresses). Kitty humors her mother but isn’t interested in marriage at the moment. After she spends some time perfecting her manners at a Swiss finishing school, her brother, Ned, arrives to escort her back home.

They take the Golden Arrow train, sharing a car with an assortment of characters. Some of the passengers Kitty has encountered at different times in her life, like the proper Lady Ainsley and the sickly Colonel Earnshaw. Others, she meets for the first time; most notably, she encounters the mysterious and seductive Rose Trevvyan, who Kitty suspects has previously made her brother’s acquaintance.

Rose falls ill during the train ride and is dead within a matter of minutes. It’s not long before Scotland Yard rules her death a murder, and Ned becomes a prime suspect. Kitty is driven to clear her brother’s name, despite the handsome Inspector Crawford’s best efforts to keep her away from the story — not to mention the press and her family’s attempts to keep her adventurous, independent spirit in check.

I enjoyed this book and flew through most of the pages before departing for our honeymoon, ultimately finishing the story while I was actually on the Zephyr train.

The strongest parts of the story include its quick plot progression. I didn’t feel I was reading unnecessary information or trudging through pointless pages at any point. I also enjoyed the author’s inclusion of obstacles Kitty faces as a young woman in the 1920s, especially when it comes to solving a mystery. How exactly is a lady supposed to piece together a string of clues when everyone’s watching her every move?

I also appreciated some fun historical inclusions in the story. I won’t give away any spoilers but you’ll find some real-life figures make an appearance at one point. The author also took care to add many details from the time period into the story, more so than other cozies sometimes do. These extra historic details helped me get a better sense of the setting without bogging the story down.

Perhaps the only part of the story I didn’t like were a few character inconsistencies (at least, in my opinion). Kitty’s mother seems to flipflop a bit in the amount of “helicoptering” she partakes in when it comes to Kitty’s independence. Also, I wasn’t a fan of her brother. Again, I won’t reveal spoilers but I wasn’t exactly invested in his name being cleared.

Kitty herself was a great character, and I’ll keep my eyes peeled for more Kitty Worthington stories in the future!

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