Spoiler Alert




                                                   A Thumbnail Summary


This is going to be a highly compressed; if you find you need more detail to appreciate the plot, a full summary and analysis is available on the searchable index.


                                                          Oahu Days


With no obvious suspects and no clear idea of how it could have been murder, Sholto’s death is ruled a suicide after some delay.  While they are waiting for the investigation to conclude, Drake and Mary Thompson spend time together and begin to become close. But before matters go too far, Drake has a three-week leave that takes him to Detroit and Thompson leaves to see family in Cleveland.

On the ship to the mainland, Drake ponders Sholo’s death. He barely knew her but he is sure she didn’t seem suicidal. And he is bothered by the presence of a Black  sailor on the ship, Hector Lamb, who was acting as a server the night of Sholo’s death and who had access to the room where the body was found. Drake’s suspicions are deepened during the voyage because one of his fellow-officers tells him that Lamb has sent home a great deal of money to his wife. When questioned, Lamb said it was winnings from illegal gambling, which is bad enough; but the officer is concerned that the money might be for Black Israel, a militant, anti-war group with ties to the Japanese. Lamb deserts as soon as the ship reaches the mainland, which raises Drake’s suspicions even more.

The title of the book is inapt—as soon as Drake lands, he goes to Detroit, Lamb’s hometown, to see Lamb’s wife.  The woman is uncooperative, and when Drake visits her a second time, she is dead.  An attempt is made on the life of Drake by persons unknown.


                                             We’ve Got to Get Out of this Place


After his brush with death, Drake contacts Mary Thompson in Cleveland. She is traveling to San Diego for a new job and asks him to accompany her on the train and to spend the rest of his leave there. They meet in Chicago and board the train where much of the action takes place.

During the journey, Drake learns from a fellow-passenger, a magician, how an apparently innocent radio message could be used to send hidden information. Recall that Sholto and Thompson worked at a radio station.  Another passenger, Rodney Hatcher, a soldier on leave, recognizes another of the passengers, a man traveling under the name of Anderson, and posts a letter to his wife about it; but before he can discuss the contents with anyone he is killed. Drake is assaulted and nearly killed in the same way.

Drake and Mary Thompson consummate their relationship, with Mary very much taking the initiative. Much to her annoyance, Drake gets off the train in Los Angeles to track down Hatcher’s widow, although he promises that he will join her in San Diego as soon as he can.


                                     Sunny California (and Mexico for that matter)


Drake is present when the letter arrives at the Hatcher residence—as is the FBI. The letter warns Mrs. Hatcher that “Anderson” was a black marketeer named Jensen with ties to the Japanese.  Drake decides to follow a lead to Tijuana where he finds not only Anderson, but Mary Thompson and Hector Lamb as well.

The reunion ends badly. Thompson and Anderson have been involved in crime and spying for years and are even married to each other. Thompson was using the Honolulu radio broadcasts to send coded messages to Japanese submarines. She killed Susan Sholto when Sholto figured it out. Anderson killed Mrs. Lamb to keep her from talking to Drake.  After Anderson is killed by Lamb, Thompson offers to let Drake replace him. Drake is necessarily reluctant.  The discussion ends with both Lamb and Thompson dead.



                                                             Fun Fact


The paperback edition was changed to Night Train, which is just as inaccurate as the original title.


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