Book review: Murder on The Lamplight Express (The Lamplight Murder Mysteries # 2) by Morgan Stang

Book links: Amazon, Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Morgan Stang lives in the humid part of Texas. He graduated from the University of Houston with a BBA. By day he works in accounting and by night he sleeps, and sometime in between he writes in a wide variety of fantasy genres, ranging from dark fantasy (The Bartram’s Maw series) to gaslamp murder mystery (The Lamplight Murder Mysteries) to cozy fantasy (The Bookshop and the Barbarian). He is a fan of all things nerdy, and lives with an immortal ball python.

Publisher: Morgan Stang Length: 298 pages Formats: ebook, paperback

I’m thoroughly enjoying this series. It has everything I look for in fiction: relatable and memorable characters, twists that twist previous twists, and an exciting genre mashup. Which subgenre does it fit into? Well, it could fit into quite a few. Think of it as a comedic gaslamp fantasy-horror murder mystery set in a pseudo-Victorian world.

As a fan of Agatha Christie’s books, I appreciated how well Morgan Stang incorporated the best elements of her work and mixed them with the supernatural. “Murder on the Lamplight Express” pays homage to Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express” but with a fantastical twist. Like poltergeists, an axe-wielding puppet, a levitating head, and the looming threat of a good old-fashioned train crash. Oh, and did I mention decapitation?

Isabeau Agarval and her team are called to action, tasked with boarding a train to ensure everyone’s survival. The story opens with exciting action and never slows down. Instead of delving into the plot and major reveals, I’ll focus on things that make it a pleasure to read.

Firstly, the characters are all well-rounded, likable, and memorable. Isabeau is a Huntress and her path is a solitary and dark one, but is it really? Her team thinks otherwise and joins her on adventures. Constantly inebriated, Mr. Homes may be of little help, but Penny (living doll) and Evie have their own standout moments.

Secondly, the murder mysteries (yes, plural) in this tale offer no easy answers, and Stang excels at keeping readers guessing, guessing again, and still being wrong. I appreciated how every character had a motive to murder someone and how unclear it was who actually did it.

Stang’s writing is sharp and witty, balancing the horrific with moments of wry humor. A sort of humor that isn’t forced, and that lightens the narrative without softening the underlying existential message. I appreciate that.

“Murder on the Lamplight Express” is a fantastic sequel – it builds on the first book, and finds a perfect balance between humor and horror, fantasy and murder mystery elements. With its well-paced plot and intriguing characters, it’ll keep you guessing. A must-read for anyone who loves a gripping and original story. I eagerly await the next book in the series.

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