On Sunday, June 29, 1919, police officer Henry McBride and his wife, Susan, are taking a day off to travel the narrow-gauge railroad known as the Switzerland Trail into the Rocky Mountains outside Boulder, CO. After a lunch party, one of the passengers, fatally stabbed, stumbles back to the train. Can Henry solve the murder before the train returns to Boulder? VERDICT Befeler's ("Paul Jacobson Geezer-Lit Mysteries") stand-alone is a classic locked-room mystery with historical details that deliver an appealing look at life in Boulder in the early 20th century. The opening chapter and epilog are written as though the trail itself is telling its own story, which lends an engaging quality.
In 1919, a Colorado police officer must solve a murder on one of his rare days off. Officer Harry McBride of the Boulder Police Department has taken his wife, Susan, on a day trip to the mountains on the narrow gauge Switzerland Trail of America railway. They soon become acquainted with their fellow passengers: friendly Allison Jacoby; her mentally challenged brother, Michael; and her fiance, grouchy World War I veteran Frederick Hammond. The group also includes attorney Daniel Compton, Allison's former boyfriend; Mrs. Lucille Vickering, a widow who runs a boardinghouse; and her companion, professor Benjamin Sager, who had invited Daniel and Frederick, both his former students. The professor, who loves the sound of his own voice, keeps up a running commentary on the history of the railway and the mines it was built to serve while Daniel and Frederick squabble and Michael, who has amazing talent as a carver, ignores everyone. Once at the end of the line, they go their separate ways. On their returning to the train, Frederick, the last to arrive, staggers aboard with a knife in his back. Harry has only the time of the train ride back to try to determine which of six people murdered their friend, fiance, and/or traveling companion. In this second departure (Mystery of the Dinner Playhouse, 2015, etc.) from Befeler's comic Geezer series, the characters lack depth, and the pedantic professor Sager manages to make the history of the area unforgivably boring.