A 1001 MIDNIGHTS Review
by Bill Pronzini:


WARREN ADLER – Trans-Siberian Express. G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1977. Paperback reprint: Pocket, 1978. Stonehouse Press, hc, May 2001; trade ppbk, July 2004.

WARREN ADLER Trans-Siberian Express

   One of crime fiction’s most popular subgenres is the tale of mystery and intrigue set on board a fast-moving train.

   For more than a century, authors from Poe to Christie to Warren Adler have perpetrated all sorts of mayhem on the world’s railways — highballing freights and crack passenger specials in this country, the fabled Orient Express, and now the Trans-Siberian Express that spans two continents on its 6000-mile route across Russia to the Sea of Japan.

   Dr. Alex Cousins, a Russian-speaking American cancer specialist, has been sent to Moscow on a secret mission by the president of the United States. The mission: to prolong for seven weeks (for unspecified reasons) the life of Viktor Dimitrov, secretary-general of the politburo, who is dying of leukemia.

   Cousins has done his duty, and now that he is ready to leave Russia, Dimitrov urges him to take the Trans-Siberian Express instead of flying — a “gift,” Dimitrov says, the train being one of legendary Victorian grandeur and the scenery being magnificent.

   Cousins agrees, but with reservations that turn out to be more than warranted. First he meets and becomes romantically involved with Russian beauty Anna Petrovna; then he finds himself enmeshed in a politically motivated conspiracy, trapped on board the train with KGB agents watching his every move.

   His only chance for escape is to seek help from his fellow passengers, but at least some of them are not who they seem to be….

   This is a rousing novel of international intrigue and adventure, populated by sharply drawn characters; the Trans-Siberian Express, in fact, is so realistically depicted that it becomes a character in its own right. Adler’s prose tends toward the undistinguished, but his evocation of the Russian scene and the scope and drama of his story more than make up for any deficiencies.

   Warren Adler is the author of a number of other contemporary thrillers, among them The Casanova Embrace (1978) and Natural Enemies (1979).

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   Reprinted with permission from 1001 Midnights, edited by Bill Pronzini & Marcia Muller and published by The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, 2007.   Copyright 1986, 2007 by the Pronzini-Muller Family Trust.