“Murder on the Galactic Orient Express” sums up the basic plot of this Hercule Poirot story, if Poirot was a dashing former undercover operative named Frank Compton with a beautiful telepathic sidekick slash love interest named Bayta and the Orient express was a train crossing the galaxy in six weeks operated by their alien spider employers.
Add a little conspiracy, foul murder, an intelligent coral that wants to take over the galaxy and an assortment of interesting aliens and humans of varying levels of cooperation and demeanor and you have a pretty entertaining novel.
The Domino Pattern is book four in the Quadrail but works well as a standalone read. This is the first book I read in the series so I speak from experience. It is a fast paced story with lots of action, twists and turns and I do get that Agatha Christie feeling when I read it. I was so immersed in the story that I didn’t really check but it felt like Timothy Zahn used the same technique to compress the narration, making it tighter and more thrilling in the end, just the way Christie is famous for.
Another thing that caught my fancy was the world building; alien spiders facilitate galactic travel by train!
The series is about the Quadrail and how Frank and Bayta protect it and the galaxy. I am happy when I find another series to read. Good read if you like murder mysteries on trains and aliens.
Title: The Domino Pattern
Series: The Quadrail 4
Author: Timothy Zahn
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Tor 2010
Copy: Bought from Amazon
Frank Compton used to be an agent for the security forces of Earth, but that was a piece of cake compared to what he’s had to deal with working for the aliens who run the Quadrail, an interstellar transportation system connecting a dozen civilizations across the galaxy.
He’s been trying to end the domination of an alien lifeform called the Modhri. This enormously powerful creature wants to rule the galaxy by controlling the thoughts of all its citizens. It does so by having parts of itself “infect” others on contact, and act as agents for it without them being aware they’re being manipulated. When Frank and his assistant Bayta journey to investigate a connection between the Modhri and the Filiaelians, they come up against a conspiracy on the Quadrail.
Passengers are being murdered…but something besides murder haunts the Quadrail. A plot is brewing that even the Modhri fears. And once again, Frank and Bayta may be the only ones who can stop it.