The 8.01 from Ocklington to Victoria. Crowded with passengers like any other busy commuter train on the Southern line. Each passenger cocooned in that curious dream-like limbo between home and work. And for ten of those passengers the journey was destined to hold a special significance . . .
For Miss Price, spinster, it was a marriage bureau. For Lady Majorie Mannering it was the start of a passionate affair. For Edward Blake, it brought a brief moment of happiness. For Sheila Tate it was the fairytale pumpkin that took her to the ball.
For them, and for the others, it was a safe world. Or so they thought. But it wasn’t only the official axe that threatened the train . . . Invisible wheels were in motion, accelerating slowly.
And no brake could halt the final tragedy.
Arthur David Beaty was a former RAF pilot, novelist and non-fiction writer whose books about flying earned him a worldwide reputation.
Born in Ceylon, Beaty was educated at Kingswood, Bath and Merton College, Oxford, where he edited The Cherwell with Iris Murdoch. He became an RAF pilot during WWII, where he excelled, but gave up a life in the Air Force to write full-time. However, his experiences informed his many novels, thrillers originally written under the pseudonym Paul Stanton. In 1960, Cone of Silence was made into a film starring Peter Cushing and George Sanders, and Alfred Hitchcock bought the rights to Village of Stars, although the film was never made.
In the late 1960s Beaty turned his hand to writing non-fiction: his book about safety and aviation The Human Factor in Aircraft Accidents, caused wide controversy on its publication in 1969, but was later accepted and remains very influential.