The year is 1977, and among the farmlands and foothills of the Southern Queensland ranges, something very weird is going on. A vintage steam engine has been sighted on the abandoned rail tracks of the tranquil Mirambeena Valley, where connecting lines no longer exist. Local legend points to the Diablo, a giant locomotive which crashed on its maiden voyage 50 years earlier. One thing has changed, however: the train is now picking up passengers, WHO NEVER RETURN!
Enter Tessa Scott, a high-profile city lawyer with a longing for the bush and a passion for helping out people in trouble. As more and more eyewitnesses vanish without trace, and a former university acquaintance goes missing, Tessa heads for Mirambeena, looking for clues and answers to the question on everyone’s lips – is the Diablo material ... or ethereal?
There are others, also, who rise to the challenge. Tessa’s old friend Hugh Bainbridge – English professor, outdoorsman and former soldier – finds the role of amateur investigator impossible to resist, and so, too, do the Steiler brothers, two “knockabout” Mirambeena farmers whose tracking skills and bushcraft are legendary across the region.
As more and more eyewitnesses vanish, and the train sightings increase, it is clear that the amateur sleuths are up against some deep and menacing forces. Police corruption is soon rearing its ugly head, while the forerunners of Queensland’s infamous "White Shoe Brigade" manoeuvre on the sidelines. Can anyone be trusted? What of Angie Reimann, the straight-talking 20 year old who attracts hostility and suspicion throughout Mirambeena, with claims that her boyfriend was abducted by a “ghost train”? What of self-proclaimed “friend of steam” Maurice J. Arblaster – engineer turned investment consultant and political lobbyist? His suggestion to check out the original Diablo crash site leads the investigators straight into the jaws of danger.
And all the while, there’s the Diablo itself – that old devil train – it’s here, there… and nowhere; clanking, whistling, shrieking… vanishing!
Part cozy mystery, part cliffhanger adventure, Moonlight Express will take you on the ride of your life.
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