Sabotage On The Solar Express by M.G.Leonard and Sam Sedgeman, illustrated by Elisa Paganelli

Publication Date: 17 February 2022

The Blurb

Billionaire train enthusiast August Reza has invited Harrison Beck and Uncle Nat on the maiden voyage of the Solar Express – the winning design of his Reza’s Rocket competition. But during the journey, they discover the train has been sabotaged, hurtling passengers into a heart-stopping, action-packed, thrill ride across the Australian Outback. Can Hal find the saboteur and stop the runaway train before disaster strikes?

Cover and internal illustrations by Elisa Paganelli

The Review

The fifth book in the Adventures On Trains series, and my favourite so far as we hurtle through the Australian Outback on the Solar Express. This is the most adrenaline fuelled mystery yet!

Hal and Uncle Nat are reunited with August Reza and his daughter, Marianne, for the launch of a competition winning, eco-friendly engine, and a journey without a crime to investigate…

Boaz, the winning designer, has used all his science and engineering know-how to build a power system that is fuelled by sunlight and water, and produces no pollution, something that is desperately important to his roots. But not everyone is happy about it.

Once again, our suspects are gathered on board (apart from a key person to the project), and Hal sets to work with his notepad and pencil to work out who is behind the sabotage, with help from his friends, and for the first time, Hal and Uncle Nat are in just as much danger as every other passenger in the train. Elisa’s illustrations bring Hal’s drawings to life and are a filled with clues to the characters onboard.

I loved watching the three children work together to problem solve as some of the adults around them looked after their own interests. By the end of the book Marianne was unrecognisable as the attention seeking, spoilt child we knew her as.

I loved visiting the Uterne Homestead and meeting Boaz’s family. This not only introduce us to Boaz and his family, but helped to give a really good understanding of the sheer size of the Australian Outback and the cultural importance of Uluru and Karlu Karlu.

With strong messages about respecting our planet and the need to replace our reliance on conventional fuel systems for the good of the land and every creature that depends on it, and a firm warning not to try Boaz’s experiments at home, this is perfect for budding engineers who love an action packed mystery.

Sabotage on the Solar Express can be read as a stand-alone novel, but is best enjoyed as part of the Adventures on Trains series, starting with The Highland Falcon Thief. Make sure you get your hands on Sam Sedgeman’s non-fiction title Epic Adventures to learn more about the routes and trains in the series too.

Huge thanks to Macmillan for sending me a copy.

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