Murder to Scale book

A cozy mystery about model railroading
Murder to Scale
by Debra B. Schiff, with Mike Blumensaadt
Available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble online, or can be ordered from any bookstore; Kindle version also available
4" x 7", softbound, 190 pages
Price: $7.99 + s&h
Cozy mysteries are those that take place within a small, well-defined community, such as a hobby or other specialized field of interest. They are almost always murder mysteries and the detectives are almost always amateurs. Such is the case with Murder to Scale. Debra Schiff’s cozy mystery takes place within the sphere of model railroading. She received technical assistance from Mike Blumensaadt, a Master Model Railroader.

In this story, Bill Murphy is found dead in a church basement as he’s preparing to set up a Christmas train display. Someone’s whacked him on the head with his own toolbox. What’s more, his prized Erie Triplex is missing. Tom McCloud, a friend who discovers the body, is properly appalled and sets out to find the murderer, against the wishes of his friend Ben Taylor, Chief of Police in the small town in which they live. I’m not giving anything away here—all of this happens within the first four pages of the book.

So who dunnit, and why? The suspects are many, all local model railroaders (even one garden railroader, which is almost beyond belief!). The plot twists and turns, false leads are followed up, dark personal secrets of various townspeople are revealed, old enmities are rekindled, until the killer is finally tracked down and brought to justice with the help of a model train.

Murder to Scale
is a fun read. It is well written and moves along quickly. Garden Railways magazine even gets a mention. Where railroad matters (some pivotal to the story) are discussed, technical notes for the uninitiated (all accurate and informative) are supplied by Mr. Blumensaadt. Ms. Schiff (who, incidentally, works for Bachmann) did her homework and has crafted an interesting, enjoyable little book with a surprising and satisfying ending.


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