Waiting on Wednesday – Everyone on This Train is a Suspect by Benjamin Stevenson

Welcome to my weekly segment, Waiting on Wednesday, where I look at upcoming books that I am planning to order and review in the next few months and which I think I will really enjoy.  I run this segment in conjunction with the Can’t-Wait Wednesday meme that is currently running at Wishful Endings.  Stay tuned to see reviews of these books when I get a copy of them.  In this latest Waiting on Wednesday, I highlight a fantastic upcoming novel that is likely to be one of the funniest and most compelling Australian reads of 2023 with Everyone on This Train is a Suspect by Benjamin Stevenson.

Everyone on this Train is a Suspect Cover

Amazon

One of the benefits of living in Australia as I have the great pleasure of receiving and reading multiple Australian novels each year, which has really introduced me to some fantastic writers.  One of the most solid and fun in recent years is Benjamin Stevenson, who has really made his mark on the Australian crime fiction landscape.  Previously known as a comedian with his twin brother, Stevenson made his crime fiction debut back in 2018 with the impressive murder mystery Greenlight.  Released as Trust Me When I Lie and She Lies in the Vines outside of Australia, Greenlight was an excellent novel that followed a guilt-ridden true-crime documentary maker who might have gotten a murderer out of jail.  This was an outstanding read and Stevenson followed it up in 2020 with the sequel book Either Side of Midnight (one of my favourite Australian books of 2020) which saw his protagonist investigate another elaborate murder made to look like a very public suicide.  Both these books were extremely good and I loved the compelling combination of clever mystery and a complex protagonist.

While I enjoyed his original two crime fiction novel, I personally don’t think that Stevenson really hit his stride as an author until last year when he presented his epic read, Everyone in my Family Has Killed SomeoneEveryone in my Family Has Killed Someone was a brilliant and captivating novel that saw the protagonist recount a complex family tale in memoir format of a very complicated family reunion at a ski resort where the guests started ending up murdered.  Of course, everyone in the family is a potential suspect as, like the title of the book suggests, they have all been responsible for someone’s death in the past.  Not only was this a very clever and entertaining story, but Stevenson also loaded the plot with a ton of humour while also making a ton of homages to classic whodunnits and locked room mysteries.  Everyone in my Family Has Killed Someone was an exceptional novel that got an easy five-star rating from me and ended up being one of the best Australian novels of 2022.

I really, really loved Everyone in my Family Has Killed Someone, as it was such a fantastic novel, and I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Stevenson was planning a sequel to it with the focus of this article, Everyone on This Train is a Suspect, which is set for release in October 2023.  As the name suggests, this new novel will see the protagonist of Everyone in my Family Has Killed Someone get involved in another series of murders, this time aboard a train setting.

Plot Synopsis:

Ernest Cunningham returns in a deliciously witty locked room (train) mystery.

When the Australian Mystery Writers’ Society invited me to their crime-writing festival aboard the Ghan, the famous train between Darwin and Adelaide, I was hoping for some inspiration for my second book. Fiction, this time: I needed a break from real people killing each other. Obviously, that didn’t pan out.

The program is a who’s who of crime writing royalty:

the debut writer (me!)
the forensic science writer
the blockbuster writer
the legal thriller writer
the literary writer
the psychological suspense writer.

But when one of us is murdered, six authors quickly turn into five detectives. Together, we should know how to solve a crime.

Or commit one.

How can you find a killer when all the suspects know how to get away with murder?

Oh dear, now this is going to be pretty damn hilarious.  Look I was already hyped about Stevenson’s new novel well before I knew the plot details, but the above synopsis is so fun.  There are so many layers to this upcoming story, including the clear Murder of the Orient Express homages, the setting aboard the iconic Ghan train, and the fact that every suspect on the train is a mystery writer of some variety.  The idea that one of these authors (which includes the protagonist) is a potential killer and they are using their literary skills to get away with it is brilliant and has a lot of potential from a mystery and narrative perspective.

However, the thing that I am most looking forward to in Everyone on This Train is a Suspect is the way that Stevenson will no doubt lovingly lampoon every single one of these different crime fiction sub-genres in his own fantastic way.  He did such an outstanding job of both satirising and exemplifying the whodunnit novel in his last book, which is what I assume he is planning for the sequel.  Simultaneously examining and making fun of several different crime fiction genres is going to be a big ask from the author, but I honestly have no doubt he can pull it off and turn it into something special for all crime fiction readers.

Look, based on how good Stevenson’s previous novels, especially Everyone in my Family Has Killed Someone, was, there was very little chance that I wouldn’t have grabbed this book later this year.  But the fact that Everyone on This Train is a Suspect is an awesome sequel to his previous fantastic novel which aims to further reference and examine fun crime fiction elements is a major selling point to me.  Stevenson honestly gets better with every book he writes, and this new novel has so much damn potential as a result.  As such, I have no doubts whatsoever that Everyone on This Train is a Suspect is going to be a remarkable read and I am fully expecting it to be one of the absolute best Australian novels of the year.

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