The Insane Train

The Insane Train

Book - 2010
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Railroad security worker Hook Runyon and a crew of damaged World War II veterans find themselves facing murder when they escort a group of mental patients and their doctors to a new home after the Baldwin Insane Asylum burns to the ground.
Publisher: New York : Minotaur Books, c2010
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780312566715
Characteristics: 312 p. ; 22 cm


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May 18, 2013

This was the first Russell Sheldon I've read, and I would read more.

The main character, Hook, is a Railroad Dog aka Railroad Bull for the Santa Fe. The time is post-WWI

The boys' quarters of a privately owned and run asylum burns and lives are lost.

Save for the Nurse who tries to save the boys she can see running in the flames, little effort seemed to be made by the male staff member responsible.

Hook and the Nuirse learn more about each other and themselves on this journey from Kansas to some land in Oklahoma owned by the asylum's director.

Hook is a collector of first editions. She's reluctant to leave the family home she owns in Kansas and has grown up in, but finds herself ready for a change and sells her house; adventure is exactly what she's in for as she takes the journey on the Insane Train with Hook and the crew of vets he has cobbled together from a kind of Hobo town underneath a bridge in the Kansas town that is their point of departure..

Hook's home is a caboose he has moved from place to place. He is always on the brink of being fired, or at least getting another Brownie, another official notice of misbehavior in his "permanent" record.

His heroism overcomes problems for the Santa Fe. Once again they see reason and realize he doesn't follow the rules, but he gets things done.

Sheldon is a professor emeritus from an Oklahoma university. He knows his history. I learned a lot about the period, about the railroad's relationship with small business in middle America, and about the way ordinary people felt about leadership and the direction the country seemed to be heading in terms of the relationship between business and employees.

Unsurprisingly justice only ever came about when good guys like Hook took the risked their jobs and lives to make it happen. The novel's end made clear this kind of heroism never made it into the official story.

The settling of various crises that evolved underscored the unofficial nature of "the real story" as distinct from "the official story."

Jul 24, 2011

Very good mystery - action and history!


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