THE CHRISTMAS TRAIN
David Baldacci


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Warner Books, November 2002
Reviewed by Barbara Fielding

Tom Langdon, journalist and award-winning international newsman, boards the Capital Limited train in Washington D.C. a few days before Christmas. He's on his way to LA to spend Christmas with his girlfriend. Langdon is taking the train because he's banned from flying on any domestic flights for two years, because of a nasty blow-up with a La Guardia security screener. Booked in a sleeper compartment, he plans to use the train trip to write a story about his experience.

Tom promised his father shortly before his death that he would write the story his legendary ancestor, Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain, never finished. Clemens supposedly left notes on a transcontinental railroad trip he had taken at Christmastime, but for unknown reasons, he never developed it into a story. Now Tom is planning to write his own Christmas train tale but he soon says, "...had he known what life altering event would happen to him barely two hours after boarding the train, he might have opted to walk to California instead."

THE CHRISTMAS TRAIN is an engaging tale of a successful newsman who desperately needs to get a life. Part mystery and part romance, Tom finds himself in a position to undo the worst mistake of his life and recapture an opportunity for love and happiness. The cast of characters are lively and entertaining: Max Powers, a Hollywood producer who brings along his screen writer, Eleanor Carter; Julie and Steve, a couple running away to get married against their parents' wishes; Gordon Merryweather, an obnoxious lawyer; Agnes Jo, a mystery lady; Regina and Roxanne, the train attendants, and more. There's enough drama and fun to make you want to book an Amtrak trip yourself, just to see if you would meet anyone half as interesting as these fictional characters.

 

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