ARC Review: KIDNAP ON THE CALIFORNIA COMET by M. G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman (Middle Grade Monday)

I received an eARC from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinions.

Title in white on baby blue
Genre: Mystery
Age Range: MG
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: Yes - book 2



Book cover for KIDNAP ON THE CALIFORNIA COMET: title in yellow on a blue speeding training a boy running to catch it

After his adventure on the Highland Falcon, amateur sleuth Hal Beck is excited to embark on another journey with his journalist uncle. This time, they’re set to ride the historic California Comet from Chicago to San Francisco.

Hal mostly keeps to himself on the trip, feeling homesick and out of place in America. But he soon finds himself drawn into another mystery when the young daughter of a billionaire tech entrepreneur goes missing!

Along with new friends—spunky 13-year-old Mason and his younger sister, Hadley—Hal races against the clock to find the missing girl before the California Comet reaches its final destination.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


KIDNAP ON THE CALIFORNIA COMET is another cosy mystery set on a train full of illustrations that help solve the mystery. I love the mix of pictures and prose to tell the story, because it really helps to visualise the characters and setting.

Hal makes two new friends, Hadley and Mason. The twins have such a fun dynamic, with their teasing and brimming energy.

I loved the magic tricks (and explanations) that Hadley introduces. All the tricks help build into the finale, and I loved seeing them all play into it – if you keep your eyes peeled, you can spot them all and predict how the scene falls out thanks to the foreshadowing.

I did guess the solution to the crime very early on, said it aloud to the friend I was sitting with and – lo and behold – I was right. There’s one very specific line that gave it away. I think it’s because it’s a bit of a common plot idea, and there are lots of clues to reinforce it throughout.

In this sequel, Hal is in the United States – and I was giggling a lot at his comments on the differences. The voice really brings out how the differences of the smallest things can really catch you out. The setting is much more impressive than in the first book when they hit the Rockies, and the dynamics of a public train make it a less closed-room feel – and thus the stakes are higher because the kidnappers could have escaped.

There’s a lot of scope left over for more stories, and I think there are some more to come? I’m hoping so, as I love the cosy mystery feel.

Read my reviews of other books by M. G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman:

By Both

Adventures on Trains (this series):

By M. G. Leonard:


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