Everyone On This Train Is a Suspect

Benjamin Stevenson

Everyone On This Train Is a Suspect
Penguin Random House Australia
17 October 2023

Everyone On This Train Is a Suspect

Benjamin Stevenson

Ernest Cunningham returns in a deliciously witty locked room (train) mystery.

When the Australian Mystery Writers’ Society invited me to their crime-writing festival aboard the Ghan, the famous train between Darwin and Adelaide, I was hoping for some inspiration for my second book. Fiction, this time: I needed a break from real people killing each other. Obviously, that didn’t pan out.

The program is a who’s who of crime writing royalty:

the debut writer (me!)
the forensic science writer
the blockbuster writer
the legal thriller writer
the literary writer
the psychological suspense writer.

But when one of us is murdered, six authors quickly turn into five detectives. Together, we should know how to solve a crime.

Or commit one.

How can you find a killer when all the suspects know how to get away with murder?


Benjamin Stevenson’s bestselling novel Everyone In My Family Has Killed Someone was a comedic delight: Agatha Christie meets Knives Out via a distinctly Australian first-person narrator.

In Everyone On This Train Is a Suspect, Ernest Cunningham – mystery-solver and now debut crime-writer – returns after his adventures with his murderous family. But, as Ernest himself says, sequels are about being new and familiar at the same time. So, this time, Stevenson has swapped the snowbound chalet for a Murder On the Orient Express-style train (The Ghan, naturally) hurtling across the Australian desert with seven crime writers on board. One is a victim, one a murderer, and the others are engaged in a battle of wits to solve the crime first. Whodunnit? Ernest knows. As with the first book, he’s narrating the story from some point in the future, gleefully scattering clues like confetti and interjecting wry 20/20 hindsight that often poses more questions than answers. Never fear, it all ties up neatly in the end.

If, like me, you were a fan of Everyone In My Family Has Killed Someone, you’re in safe hands here. The prologue begins with Ernest both laying out and simultaneously skewering the tropes of a crime sequel in an email to his editor where he is refusing to write the exact kind of prologue that his email provides: a train cabin, the signs of a struggle, a faceless victim. Oh, also Ernest will need a new literary agent. For … reasons.

Not just a hilarious comedy, a clever work of meta-fiction, a compelling murder mystery, and an affectionate nod to classic mysteries, Everyone On This Train Is a Suspect is also a masterclass in the art of writing murder mysteries.

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