Trolley Days is the story of an unlikely friendship between two boys growing up in Holyoke in its industrial heyday. Jack Bernard is the son of a mill worker who emigrated from Canada, Tom Wellington the son of the mill owner. Jack is shy and socially a bit awkward, Tom self-assured and smooth-talking. But for all their differences, the two boys have much in common. They love fishing, sports, and all manner of youthful tomfoolery. Each has suffered the loss of a sibling, tragedies that have affected both families deeply.
In the opening chapter a blizzard is approaching as Jack boards a train for the long trip to Boston. He has received a cryptic letter informing him that Tom is in a Boston jail. Despite a recent falling-out between the two, Jack still considers Tom his best friend, and he refuses to allow a snowstorm to prevent him from going to Tom's aid. Soon Jack will be plunged into a mystery that calls on all his courage and determination to solve, even as his friend's life hangs in the balance. To save his friend, Jack will need the assistance of Tom's sister, Anne, but that will require Jack and Anne to reconcile their fractured relationship.
Does friendship have its limits? Can bonds of trust, once broken, be repaired? Can we learn from life's tragedies and move on, or must we carry them like lead weights on our hearts forever? In Trolley Days it seems it is the young who bear the heaviest of life's burdens and must marshal the strength to free themselves and their parents.
"A joyful, engaging read from beginning to end...." Mark Ashton, Southbridge Evening News
About the Author
Mysteries and historical fiction are McMaster's two favorite literary genres. His fascination with detective fiction began with the Hardy Boys when he was ten years old. More recently the stories of Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, P. D. James, and Elizabeth George have inspired him and influenced his writing. Among his favorite writers of historical fiction are James Michener, Irving Stone, Katherine Paterson, and Carol Otis Hurst. The Trolley Days Series has provided him an opportunity to pursue both his interests in mystery and in historical fiction.
The period of the nineteen-teens is of particular interest to McMaster, inspired in part by his parents and their reminiscences of growing up in that era. Particularly intriguing were his father's stories of riding the streetcars that plied many city streets and country roads in that period, stories that led to his first novel, Trolley Days.
The textile industry is another subject of special interest to McMaster. Visits to several still-operational woolen mills in and around his hometown during his college years have inspired his writing. One brief visit to the dyehouse of a woolen mill in Putnam, Connecticut, left an indelible impression that inspired the writing of his second novel, The Dyeing Room