Night Train to Memphis is the fifth book in the author’s Vicky Bliss series. Let me tell you upfront that it might be better to read previous titles in the series first. The cover made me curious to find out what connection the Sphinx or the pyramids had to Memphis. See, the only Memphis that I think of instantly is the one in Tennessee, famous for rock music and Elvis and Johnny Cash. A visit to Wikipedia tells me that this Memphis was named after an ancient Egyptian city. After reading the book, I am still not very sure of the title.
Vicky Bliss works in a museum in Germany, and frequently tries to dodge her fussy boss, an elderly gourmand. She is roped into going on a luxury cruise on the Nile – very Hercule Poirotish! German Intelligence thinks there is a plot to steal some treasure and Vicky Bliss is under cover as an expert on Egyptology. There is the usual cast of characters on board the boat, including a woman from Memphis, Tennessee. Vicky is shocked to run into her absconding lover who is on his honeymoon. A series of accidents lead to a plot you might never have imagined. Vicky’s boss Schmidt turns up on the boat, and is part of the adventures that unfold. When and why does Vicky Bliss end up on the night train to Memphis? You have to read to find out.
There are several five star reviews for this book on Amazon, but I think I will belong to the 5-10% people who have reserved opinions. The language is complex and many sentences have an ‘aside’ comment from the protagonist. Some segues in the plot could have been explained better. It takes a long time for a first time reader to realize that the character Schmidt is an important one and seems central to this series. Allusions to some recurring characters are vague. The whole country music motif does not make sense, especially since it is the German guy who is constantly humming the country songs. Other than a phobia or two, blond hair and height, and a knack for incessant verbose repartee, you don’t learn much about Vicky Bliss herself.
Night Train to Memphis is a long book, or it seems so. I am not sure how much I like it, or if I want to read any other Vicky Bliss book.