December 23, 1952. A transcontinental train is stopped cold by an avalanche in a remote Colorado canyon. Theres a murderer aboard, one who has already killed, and will kill again unless stopped. The California Zephyr, named for the West Wind, is a veritable small city on tracks, populated by passengers from all walks of life and a large crew whose duty it is to keep them safe. Zephyrette Jill McLeod is the passengers primary point of contact. Shes armed for any emergencywith a first-aid kit, a screwdriver, and her knowledge of human nature. But can she figure out a clever plot and stop a ruthless killer?
The Silver Lady, with its run from Oakland to Chicago and back, was famous for 21 years for its Vista-Domes, providing a 360-degree view of the spectacular Western scenery. The CZ was a collaboration of three different railroads. Creative artists from Agatha Christie to Patricia Highsmith to Alfred Hitchcock have used trains as a staple of mystery and suspense stories. In author Janet Dawsons version of the Orient Express, the killer isnt finished after one murder, and a 24-year-old train attendant must play Hercule Poirot. Added characters from the Red ScareRosenberg Era make for a suspenseful plot that is impeccable in its period details. Dawson has also provided a 5-page Authors Note of research sources and a bibliography of books and films.
This is Janet Dawsons second stand-alone mystery novel, after last years What You Wish For. Her series PI Jeri Howard has sleuthed through ten books, the first of which won the St. Martins/PWA award and other mystery award nominations. Dawson was nominated in 2012 for Left Coast Crimes Golden Nugget Award for Bit Player. She is past president of the MWA Norcal chapter, and works at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories.