The stunning front and back cover illustrations by Marco Guadalupi cry out to you to pick up this book. Once inside you are not disappointed as you discover an exciting tale of a train adventure undertaken by an 11-year-old girl called Max and her chaperone nun called Sr. Marguerite, spanning European cities from Paris to Istanbul as they give chase in search of a stolen diamond.
The story rattles along at a swift pace with lots of twists and turns on the way, and you are kept guessing as to the identity of the diamond thief from amongst the quirky characters who board the train. People are not always who they seem to be. The plotting is sharp and thrilling. Max is a brave, enchanting and loveable character and you are rooting for her to discover the diamond thief before the train reaches its destination.
Separate chapters for each leg of the journey make it easy to follow the route the train takes. There are lots of lovely cultural references involving food and language bringing the cities visited to life in a fun and educational way. There is also a strong vein of humour running through the book. The black and white illustrations inside by Marco Guadalupi complement and delightfully enhance the story.
The book has a beautiful message of friendship and not judging others too readily. You will be riveted to the end page. To be highly recommended.