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Summary

Gary Nelson has a routine for the commute to his rather dull job in the city. Each day, he watches as a woman on the train applies her make up in a ritual he now knows by heart. He's never dared to strike up a conversation...but maybe one day.

Then one evening, on the late train to Gipsy Hill, the woman invites him to take the empty seat beside her. Fiddling with her mascara, she holds up her mirror and Gary reads the words 'HELP ME' scrawled in sticky black letters on the glass.

From that moment, Gary's life is turned on its head. He finds himself on the run from the Russian mafia, the FSB and even the Metropolitan Police - all because of what this mysterious young woman may have witnessed. In the race to find out the truth, Gary discovers that there is a lot more to her than meets the eye....

This audiobook contains an exclusive interview between Alan Johnson and Melvyn Bragg.  

©2021 Alan Johnson (P)2021 Headline Publishing Group Ltd

Critic reviews

"Charming." (Mail on Sunday)

"Johnson's writing style is easy, relaxed, self-deprecating...impressive." (Observer

"Johnson writes wonderfully." (Telegraph

"This boy can write...." (The Spectator

What listeners say about The Late Train to Gipsy Hill

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Great book

I loved this, so easy to listen to yet not a bit simplistic. There’s a bit of everything in this book - realistic, fun and sympathetic characters, jolly good villains who ones suspects really do exist in this shadowy world of political espionage and organised crime. Spies, social comment and a love story. What more could you want? It all blends together into an enjoyable whole that is engrossing. You want to know what happens to the likeable and very ordinary protagonist whom I was sorry to say goodbye to along with his very extraordinary Ukrainian girlfriend who, in my head, looked like Jodi Comer! So well written but not so well narrated. That’s the only thing that spoilt it. To me he sounded a bit like he was reading a text book rather loudly throughout. Having said that his Russian accents were very good so I wouldn’t be put off by it.

3 people found this helpful

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Absolutely brilliant!

I listened to this book in 2 days and absolutely loved it! I highly recommend it!

3 people found this helpful

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F A B U L O U S

Totally pulled into the story from the first page (can you say that when you listen on audible). Loved all the characters and could quite see the hapless Gary going along for the ride and brightening up his mundane life.
Again, probably due to listening to the book I had to do a few playbacks on the ladt few chapters to make sure I wasn't getting my Russian /Ukraine names mixed up apart from that it was brilliant. Am left wondering if Mr J has another book up his sleeve, I'm thinking we could hear more about Knuckles or his other housemates. Highly recommend (have done already to my son).

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Excellent story just the right amount of intrigue to keep the reader hooked

This was one of the best crime novels I’ve read for many years. It has a great plot and knowing recent events about Russian espionage is entirely believable. The characters are well written and had it been the actual book it would easily rank as one you cannot put down. I will definitely listen to this again and look forward to reading more of Alan Johnson’s work.

2 people found this helpful

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Loved the plot, style of writing, whole book

Really enjoyable, great plot / sub plots. Melvyn Bragg identified the one challenge, keeping up with who was who with too many Russian names to cope with.

2 people found this helpful

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Train has broken down

I have given up with this sadly. Dont know if it is the monotone narrator or the story. But I have no idea what it's about as it was just background noise...didnt hold my attention at all.

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Great title

A really good tale with some excellent characterisation. The Russian and Ukrainian names confused me but I accepted that and most become clear as you go along. I loved Gary and his mum, both of whom were happy to settle for an ordinary life but got dragged into other people’s.
The narration was excellent and I enjoyed the interview with Melvyn Bragg at the end.

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Russians Russians and more Russians

Everything but the kitchen sink.
Beneath the vast number of predominately Russian characters there’s a decent enough thriller. But it’s watered down with too many side stories that really aren’t necessary.
And info dumps are not a good way to explain motives or off-screen action. Quite hard work and not as interesting as it sounded, not helped by rather stilted narration.

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Interesting and prescient

Enjoyed the well drawn characters. Gripping story with a great twist at the end.