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The Commuter Train

Clarion Review (4 Stars)

British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli once said, “Justice is truth in action.” Justice in Karl Milde’s The Commuter Train begins when Carl Collingwood and his twenty-something son Bruce hijack a Manhattan-bound commuter train. The Collingwoods release all passengers except Mike Snead, a CEO who has wrangled the Collingwoods’ experimental aircraft company away from them. Frustrated and longing for justice, the Collingwoods want to take Snead to Washington, DC, to have him testify before a congressional committee on corporate corruption.

But in this day and age, hijacking a commuter train is a serious offense —one that causes David Price, a relentless FBI agent, to follow them in hot pursuit. It also captures the attention of Juli Gables, a young TV news reporter trying to break the story of the hijacking and who may know the real reason why Snead now owns the Collingwoods’ business.

The Commuter Train is a fast-paced thriller that unfolds in tight bursts. The story feels realistic, like a breaking story that might be found on the news today. To this tale, Milde adds a mix of characters that are well-rounded and compelling —from the FBI man who believes he’s judge and jury to the young reporter trying to hunt down the truth about the Collingwoods’ company.

Milde also has a good knack for dialogue. In one scene, Snead is asked if what he did to the Collingwoods is fair. Snead seems to be channeling Machiavelli and Bernie Madoff when he answers, “When you ask a businessman whether what he does is fair, he doesn’t really understand the questionÂ….Fairness has nothing to do with the rules of the game, so it is simply not an issueÂ…”

Unfortunately, the plot is derailed in the second half of the book when Milde takes his characters off the train and sends two of them in pursuit of a paper trail to Bermuda. Even though it’s a temporary shift, one wonders if the plot would have been better served if the characters had stayed on the train and with the action. Nonetheless, The Commuter Train is a taut thriller that is sure to keep readers on the edge of their seats.