ARC Review: MURDER ON THE SAFARI STAR 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 khaki green on yellow next to mongonse on a branch
Genre: Mystery
Age Range: MG
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: yes - third book in series


Book cover for MURDER ON THE SAFARI STAR: title in red above a yellow and green train, with kids and animals hanging off it

Join Hal and Uncle Nat as they plunge straight into an exciting mystery – this time while on Safari!

Uncle Nat is taking Hal on the journey of a lifetime – on a Safari Train from Pretoria to Victoria Falls. Drawing Africa’s amazing wild animals from on board a spectacular steam train described as a luxury hotel on wheels, should be enough excitement for anyone. But something suspicious is happening on board the Safari Star and when a passenger is found mysteriously killed inside a locked compartment, it’s up to Hal, along with his new friend Winston and his pet Mongoose, Chipo, to solve the murder mystery.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


I really love this series. I love mysteries, and the on-board setting (in a variety of locales) means it’s a lock-in mystery – you know whoever did it is on the train. And, naturally, almost everyone has a motive. They’re cosy, fun and addictive. They’re basically Agatha Christie’s MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS for Middle Grade – and this time, we get an actual murder.

This series acts like standalone mysteries – you can dive in anywhere and follow along perfectly because there aren’t threads hanging over from previous books. If you don’t start at the beginning, you’ll pretty quickly discover the one thing you need to know: Hal and his Uncle Nat have been on a lot of train journeys that been beset by crimes! If you want to operate a train service that doesn’t get press attention for a crime, best not to invite them – alas for Nat’s job, which is travel writing about trains.

The mystery felt so much more complicated than the previous entries. There was just so much going on – so many threads weaving together to confuse matters as Hal tried to untangle it. I had guessed whodunnit quite early, but then doubted myself as I could not see how the various clues and ideas played together.

I loved that aspect of it, because it meant I was with Hal, having to reassess my ideas – and I was guessing throughout. I’m not a big fan of guessing really early, and then having to wait for everyone else to catch up.

The South African and Zimbabwe location of this mystery separates it from the other two (England and the US) as the train passes through the savannah. There is an undercurrent of environmental conservation running through the book as a result, which was a nice way of distinguishing the book further from its predecessors.

The fourth book has been recently announced, DANGER AT DEADMAN’S PASS, which is set in Germany, and coming out in September. I’m excited!

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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