The Man Who Played Trains - Richard Whittle - Book Cover
Detective, Mystery & Thriller

The Man Who Played Trains – Richard Whittle

An old lady battered to death – back in the past, in WWII, a captain of a German U-Boot involved in more than he wished for, in the present, a mining engineer trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together and his daughter who fears her father is in well over his head. Then there is the Nazi art theft and an abandoned Scottish mine…


‘The Man Who Played Trains’ is a cleverly plotted thriller, spanning half a century with its two tales – one set in WWII, where U Boot captain Theodor Volker has no idea what he is getting into when a high ranking officer seems to take an unusual interest in him. The other is set in the present, introducing John Spargo, a man without a clue to the precariousness of the situation he is about to encounter… his daughter, Jez, desperately tries to make her father see sense but little does she know the dangers lying before them…


The nightmares have never left John Spargo but he has learned how to hide it from his mother, Moraq, who dismissed them, and his daughter, Jez, who might get worried. When Jez calls her father to tell him Moraq is in critical condition, Spargo has no idea what happened and is puzzled as to why the police would want to speak to him. Soon he finds out why – his mother is viciously attacked and brutally beaten in her home in Kilcrag and has succumbed to her injuries in hospital. Why would someone do that? What motive is behind it? It gets complicated when Spargo has a somewhat unusual business trip to Spain. Meanwhile, Jez’s house is being watched and the police investigations go nowhere. When Spargo returns, he finds not only hidden diaries of Theodor Volker, a captain of a German U Boot, but also makes a gruesome discovery: there is a murdered body in his cellar. The police bring Spargo in for questioning…

Going back in time to nearly the end of WWII we find ourselves with Theodor Volker, travelling from Bremen southwards, to see his son, living with his elderly grandparents since the tragic death of Theo’s wife, Erika, during the Hamburg bombing. A Nazi officer is too close for Theo’s comfort – especially when he offers him transport. In the circumstances, Theo has no other option but to accept. Soon, he is engaged in dangerous games involving stolen Nazi art, a secret mission and old friends with devious motives.. Who can he trust? How to survive and get his boy into safety? What to think of ‘The Man Who Played Trains’ and how on earth does it relate to an old and abandoned mine in Scotland and mine-engineer Spargo and his daughter, Jez, in the present? Only one way to find out..

My Thoughts 

I love this gripping thriller, I only wished I had not read the blurb previously as it gives something away which it should not have. That having said, it was a fascinating story in which the intricate plot moves forward and back in time: we find ourselves at the end of WWII with U-Boot commander Theodor Volker, when the Nazi’s are desperate to either get away themselves or to ‘relocate’ the treasures they stole, as well as in the current days with Spargo and his daughter, Jez. I loved Jez, the author has created such a strong, intelligent and feisty character in her. Even her father is lost without her! Their bond is strong and it is the backbone of this gripping thriller – I could easily picture them in real life.

Imagine ‘The Man Who Played Trains’ to be made into a film? Old mines in rural Scotland set against the history of the fall of the Third Reich with a little bit of sunny Spain in between, with several plotlines cunningly woven together. There were a few scenes.. I could easily picture them on the big screen (I cannot go into this as it would give away the plot but they would make for action-packed and gripping scenes, set against the dangers of nature!). ‘The Man that Played Trains,’ is an intriguing and engrossing story combining a whodunit with historical facts and fiction as well as a thriller fuelled with dark criminals and devious organisations with a treasure hunt whilst the red thread consists of a poignant family history.

About the Author 

Richard Whittle Author Image

Richard Whittle has been a policeman, a police marksman and police motorcyclist, a diesel engine tester, professional engineering geologist and Chartered Engineer. He has worked in civil engineering, geothermal energy, nuclear and mining industries in seventeen countries in Europe, Africa and the Americas and is able to draw on a wealth of personal experiences. Well known in his field as a technical writer, he spent time as a book reviewer for technical journals and regularly contributed to professional publications. In 2002, writing as Alan Frost, he was shortlisted for the Crime Writers Association’s Debut Dagger Award. More recently, his self-published novel, Playpits Park, has been an Amazon success and The Man Who Played Trains, published by Urbane, a critical success. He currently lives in the Scottish Borders, not too far away from Edinburgh.

Book Info 


 Paperback  480 pages
 Publisher Urbane Publications (25 May 2017)
 ISBN 978-1911331032
 Ebook 3115 KB
 ASIN B072HX7C97

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