Review - The Train Rider, Tony Cavanaugh
THE TRAIN RIDER is book three featuring Darian Richards - ex-cop, now vigilante walking a very fine line between right and wrong. He's also a violent, psychotic killer magnet.
In this case, THE TRAIN RIDER is the name of the book and the serial rapist and killer who Richards never caught. After a period of no activity, Richards is convinced that the killer is back, in Queensland as well, and playing games with him. Certainly as the violence ramps up, our killer declares himself clearly - its up to Richards alone to save the day.
Richards is a classic anti-hero. Prepared to kill if justice cannot prevail in any other way, he's very much a loner. With a best friend, a computer genius cohort, a love interest and a reluctant colleague he stomps his way through this case intent on getting this killer. Veering dangerously close to actually building a relationship with Rose (who made an appearance in the earlier books), he manages to drive her away again - this time not by using her as bait, but being around him means you get involved in things that most people don't need to know about. This time he manages to keep his best friend out of the mess, but his colleagues aren't so lucky. Albeit slightly less battered and bruised this time out.
If you haven't read the earlier books, THE TRAIN RIDER does spend a lot of time going back over past events, as well as the current thoughts of Richards on just about everything. Perhaps a little too much at times for those that did read the earlier instalments. That emphasis on the "justification / explanation / whys and wherefores" of what's going on in Richards mind was frequently heavy lifting.
This is also fiction that relies on the mad, bad, extremely violent psychopathic killer. You know the type - the ones that want to "talk" to the reader, that want everyone to know the minute details of what they do to their victims. Which given the inevitability of young woman victims, all got very tedious quite a few years ago. TRAIN RIDER makes no attempt whatsoever to explain the why's and spends a bit too much time concentrating on the what in rather gory detail. It's all become less "shocking" and more "staged" unfortunately.
Since the first book I've always maintained that Richards is a fantastic character. His flawed logic and justifications, his whatever it takes attitude, make him the sort of bloke that you'd like on your side, but perhaps not at your dinner table. In THE TRAIN RIDER he's still that bloke, but he's doing a lot to carry the day.
One man pushed Darian Richards to the edge. The man he couldn't catch. The Train Rider.
As Victoria's top homicide investigator, Darian Richards spent years catching killers. The crimes of passion, of anger, of revenge ... they were easy. It was the monsters who were hard.
Someone was taking girls. At first he'd keep them a week then give them back. Darian warned that wouldn’t last. It didn’t. From then on, their bodies were never found. Girls kept disappearing. All they had in common was the fact they’d last been seen on a train.
The ever-rising list of the vanished broke Darian. Forced him to walk away. Now, retired, watching the Noosa River flow by, the nightmares had finally stopped. Darian was never going back.
Then three girls go missing from Queensland trains. Darian knows that the killer is playing him. He has a choice to make. But when the decision means a girl will die, there is no choice. He has to stop this man once and for all. Forever.