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Mallard: Speed, Spies and Murder

By Andy Lynch

It is glorious May in Berlin, 1938. The city’s joyful residents are besotted by a man they believe to be their saviour.

A man who has swept away the ignominy of defeat in war twenty years earlier. A man who has rebuilt the German economy, created employment, restored prosperity and inflated pride for an insulted, angry nation.

What does it matter that the driving force behind the country’s burgeoning industry might be rearmament? What does it matter that there has to be a human price to pay for renaissance to be delivered?

The imaginations of ordinary German have been fired by impassioned speeches promising retribution and glory. And pride of place in the mind of many Germans – a symbol of their innate superiority – is possession of the world’s fastest train, the diesel-powered Fliegender Hamburger.

But across the Channel, some of Britain’s best engineering brains are plotting to spoil the party. Plans are well advanced for an assault on the speed record by Sir Nigel Gresley’s steam thoroughbred Mallard.

It’s steam against diesel. The old against the new. English coal against German technology. And young Yorkshireman Sam Bolton suddenly finds himself out of the London & North Eastern Railway’s design office and thrown literally onto the footplate as preparations for the epic run are ramped up.

Sam’s a bright spark, and the powers that be in the British government also think it would also be useful if he could do a bit of ‘trainspotting’ to gauge exactly what the Germans are up to.

Few in England believe that another major war in Europe will happen. But Sam’s trip quickly shakes him out of such complacency. The reality of the Third Reich begins to dawn. He realises that he is bearing awful witness to an impending catastrophe. The future is an express train hurtling towards the buffers.

And back in England two psychopathic Nazi assassins have Sir Nigel in their sights – unless Sam can stop them.

Andy Lynch’s Spies, Speed and Murder, will appeal to lovers of history and thrillers alike. He skilfully paints a picture of a continent sleep-walking into war while recreating, in sumptuous detail, the magical moment the pinnacle of the age of steam on the railways was reached.

Andy Lynch has written hundreds of hours of television and radio drama but nothing has thrilled him more than writing Mallard: Spies, Speed and Murder. The story was inspired by a family trip to the National Railway Museum in York. There he laid eyes on the magnificent Mallard steam locomotive and the elegant dynamometer car used in the record-breaking run. The historical record is well documented and to introduce the story to a wider audience Andy knew some fiction needed to be woven into the facts. He is forever grateful to friend and noted novelist Jan Needle for his enthusiastic selfless help, encouragement and editing skills in the creation of this novella.

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