On a train ride to Los Angeles, cash-strapped journalist Tom Langdon encounters a ridiculous cast of characters, unexpected romance, and an avalanche that changes everyone's Christmas plans.
Former globe-trotting journalist Tom Langdon, 41, boards the Capitol Limited to kill many birds with one stone: he's out to fulfill his old man's death wish, find himself, write a fluff piece for a woman's magazine and visit his voice-over actress girlfriend in L.A. (He's also on the train since he's been banned from flying in the U.S. for two years after a recent meltdown at LaGuardia.) The trip turns out to be a journey of the soul-though an innocuous and predictable one. Surprised to meet famous movie director Max Powers in transit, Tom's invited to team up on his idol's next film, but shocked when he learns the screenwriter is none other than his long-lost love, Eleanor Carter. Trading suspense for sentimentality, Baldacci (Last Man Standing; Total Control; etc.), dedicates his latest to "everyone who loves trains and holidays," and the polished unabridged audio production, perfect for a long family car trip, employs plenty of musical accompaniment and evocative sound effects, from bells and whistles to conductors' calls, to suit this intended tone. Baldacci's impressionistic prose and detailed descriptions of rail travel are nice, but what's more notable is the silky smooth narration of television producer, director and actor Matheson. His energetic, distinctive renditions of the author's quirky and humorous cast of characters-including a priest, a lawyer, a personal assistant, a tarot card reader and a singer-make up for Baldacci's silly plot twists of reunited lovers, a thief on board the train and the avalanche that has "everyone contemplating their demise." Simultaneous release with the Warner hardcover (Forecasts, Oct. 7). (Nov.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
Showing 1-4 of the 4 most recent reviews
1 . A short story at best
Posted May 06, 2010 by Mojoron , ArkansasA whimsical story of a wild train ride at Christmas with an unexpected turn at the end. Not great literary effort, but good reading non the less.
2 . Good book at Christmas Time
Posted January 04, 2010 by Michelle , ColoradoGood story line and keeps your interest. A quick read that is especially fitting around the holidays. Made me want to ride Amtrack again.
3 . A pleasant read
Posted January 01, 2010 by cdez , ManassasThe Christmas Train is a light-hearted read that pours out a good story in short order fashion. Baldacci's style of good stories with not a lot of words is very refreshing at times. I found myself on Google many times during this read researching Amtrak routes and schedules. I'll definately take a train ride in the coming year.
4 . Not his regular shoot em up.
Posted December 21, 2009 by John , DallasJust finished the Christmas train. Enjoyed to book. It has some surprises, as most of Baldacci does. Appropriate for this time of year (Christmas). Again, he has more than one story going on. I have read almost all Baldacci's books, and so far I would rate them all a 4 or 5 out of 5. I like the way he builds his characters. Read the Camel Club books when you get a chance.
Grand Central Publishing
November 01, 2004
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Excerpt from The Christmas Train by David Baldacci
Tom Langdon was a journalist, a globetrotting one, because it was in his blood to roam widely. Where others saw only instability and fear in life, Tom felt graced by an embracing independence. He'd spent the bulk of his career in foreign lands covering wars, insurrections, famines, pestilence, virtually every earthly despair. His goal had been relatively simple: He had wanted to change the world by calling attention to its wrongs. And he did love adventure.
However, after chronicling all these horrific events and still seeing the conditions of humanity steadily worsen, he'd returned to America filled with disappointment. Seeking an antidote to his melancholy he'd started writing drearily light stories for ladies' magazines, home-decorating journals, garden digests, and the like. However, after memorializing the wonders of compost and the miracle that was do-it-yourself wood flooring, he wasn't exactly fulfilled.
It was nearing Christmas, and Tom's most pressing dilemma was getting from the East Coast to Los Angeles for the holidays. He had an age-old motivation for the journey; in LA was his girlfriend, Lelia Gibson. She'd started out as a movie actress, but after years of appearing in third-rate horror films she'd begun doing voiceover work. Now, instead of being cinematically butchered for her daily bread, she supplied the character voices for a variety of enormously popular Saturday-morning cartoons. In the children's television industry it was accepted that no one belted out the voices of goofy woodland creatures with greater flair and versatility than golden-piped Lelia Gibson. As proof, she had a shelf full of awards, an outrageously large income, and a healthy share of syndication rights.
Tom and Lelia had hit it off on an overnight flight from Southeast Asia to the States. At first he thought it might have been all the liquor they drank, but when that buzz burned off a couple hours out of LA, she was still beautiful and interesting-- if a little ditzy and eccentric--and she still seemed attracted to him. He stayed over in California and they got to know each other even better. She visited him on the East Coast, and they'd been a comfortable if informal bi-coastal item ever since.
It might seem strange that a successful Hollywood lady would go for a nomadic gent who ran through passports like water, could spout off funny if lewd phrases in thirty languages, and never would be financially secure. Yet Lelia had tired of the men in her circle. As she diplomatically explained it once, they were complete and total lying scum and unreliable to boot. Tom was a newsman, she said, so at least he occasionally dealt with the truth. She also loved his rugged good looks. He took that the mean the deep lines etched on his face from reporting in windswept desert climates with bullets flying. In fact his face was more often than not down in the sand in observance of local safety regulations.
She listened with rapt attention to Tom's tales of covering major stories around the globe. For his part, he observed with admiration the professional way Lelia went about her loonyvoice career. And they didn't have to live together year-round? a decided advantage, Tom believed, over the complex hurdles facing couples who actually cohabitated.