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Manuel Rose
Death on the Railway
Manuel Rose, author

An erotic, horrific thrill ride you won’t be able to put down, until the unbelievably shocking ending! Death on the Railway is a supernatural crime thriller with an element of romance. This thriller is set in the highly stressed, fast-paced world we live in today and will appeal to readers who enjoy psychological thrillers!

Subtitled “a racy horror thriller novel,” Rose’s bloody serial-killer epic kicks off with the “Railway Butcher” of a Massachusetts town killing one of the many beautiful young women whose body he will harvest for parts. The raciness, though, comes in to play in the story of protagonist Angelo Russo, a young man whose parents recently died in a car crash—and is still reeling from a (graphicly described) sexual liaison with his sister, who soon numbers among the Butcher’s victims. The police consider Angelo a suspect. His sister, Carina, haunts him as he tries to put his life in order, training for a railroad job, and it seems that anyone he gets close to winds up dead.

True to its genre, nothing is quite what it seems in Death on the Railway, as the fast-paced narrative twists, builds, and gets weird. Angelo at times can’t tell if he’s dreaming of his dead (apparent) sister or being haunted by her highly libidinous ghost, and that feeling of not-quite-reality permeates the novel. Rose’s concrete, matter-of-fact prose presents wild and grotesque moments in an offhand way, often with little buildup, eviscerations described in the same tone as the lessons Angelo picks up in his training to be a railway conductor. More shocking than the bloodshed is its abruptness: a best friend and several potential love interests drift into the story only to be killed before their connection to Angelo is felt in any significant way.

The violence is likely too familiar to jolt devotees of the genre, but Angelo’s attitudes toward interracial dating and a “drag queen” he meets likely constitute the book’s truest shocks: Dude sleeps with his sister and acts like other people’s ways of loving are deviant? That character ultimately proves one of the novel’s most engaging, even as the blinkered protagonist keeps saying things like “You’re not going to try any funny stuff, are you?”

Takeaway: This serial-killer thriller’s most upsetting shocks aren’t its many murders.

Great for fans of: Andrew Martin’s The Blackpool Highflyer, Tim Weaver Vanished.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: B
Marketing copy: A-