Shadows on the Train (Dinah Galloway Mysteries)
Orca Book Publishers (2007)
Reviewed by Maya Landers (age 10) for Reader Views (7/08)
“Shadows on the Train,” a Dinah Galloway mystery by Melanie Jackson, failed to capture my attention or make me even remotely interested for the character’s sake. Although the main idea is interesting “a girl trapped on a cross-country train,” the way that the book was written made it seem nonsensical and boring.
In the beginning of the book, Dinah is remembering the first time she met Ardle McBean, a smoker who knew her late father. Jackson did not do a very good job conveying to the reader that this was a memory, making it seem like it was happening right then. Although this can be a good tactic sometimes, in this instance it made the book hard to understand.
Also, the characters are either inconsistent or very predictable and boring, which makes the book even harder to comprehend. Although Dinah is consistent, everyone else seems like one thing one minute and the complete opposite the next.
Throughout the book there are several jokes or puns that are obviously meant to be funny but instead detract from the book even more, making the reader’s mind wander elsewhere instead of concentrating on the story. There is a mystery buried beneath the corny jokes and backwards memories, but with so much else cluttering up the storyboard it is hard to focus on it. Also, when the mystery is close to being solved, there are so many false leads that the reader doesn’t know what to believe and what to discard.
The mystery is centered on the treasure left by Dinah’s late father, but it is not until near the end of the book that the reader finds out what that treasure is. Although in some cases this is interesting, here it serves to make the storyline even more crowded with confusion and perplexity.
Along with the mysteries and the corny jokes there is another problem that has almost nothing to do with the main plot, but is still a major conflict. A woman, Mrs. Zanatta, has a son, Ryan, who stutters. Dinah gets herself caught up in their affairs, but why she does it is never explained.
I have not read any other Dinah Galloway mysteries, but if they are anything like this book I know that I would not be interested in reading them, and I hope that no one else would make the mistake of trying to read them. I would not recommend “Shadows on the Train” by Dinah Galloway to my friends because it was hard to understand and impossible to enjoy.