Book Beginnings & The Friday 56: Death in the Tunnel by Miles Burton

Every Friday Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Gillion at Rose City Reader where you can share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading. You can also share from a book you want to highlight just because it caught your fancy.

This week I’m featuring one of the books I’m currently reading – Death in the Tunnel by Miles Burton, a Golden Age murder mystery. Miles Burton is one of the pen names of Cecil John Street, who also wrote under the names John Rhode and Cecil Waye. He was a prolific author who produced four detective novels a year for thirty-seven years!

The Book Begins:

The 5.0 pm train from Cannon Street runs fast as far as Stourford, where it is due at 6.07. On Thursday, November 14th, it was, as usual, fairly full, but not uncomfortably so.

A fairly dull opening paragraph to a very complicated murder mystery that is keeping me turning the pages as fast as I can and at the same time trying to take in all the detail.

Also every Friday there is The Friday 56, hosted by Freda at Freda’s Voice. *Grab a book, any book. *Turn to Page 56 or 56% on your  ereader . If you have to improvise, that is okay. *Find a snippet, short and sweet, but no spoilers!

The alternative to suicide can only be murder. I should naturally like to know who may be said to benefit by Sir Wilfred’s death?


On a dark November evening, Sir Wilfred Saxonby is travelling alone in the 5 o’clock train from Cannon Street, in a locked compartment. The train slows and stops inside a tunnel; and by the time it emerges again minutes later, Sir Wilfred has been shot dead, his heart pierced by a single bullet.

Suicide seems to be the answer, even though no motive can be found. Inspector Arnold of Scotland Yard thinks again when learns that a mysterious red light in the tunnel caused the train to slow down.

Finding himself stumped by the puzzle, Arnold consults his friend Desmond Merrion, a wealthy amateur expert in criminology. Merrion quickly comes up with an ‘essential brainwave’ and helps to establish how Sir Wilfred met his end, but although it seems that the dead man fell victim to a complex conspiracy, the investigators are puzzled about the conspirators’ motives as well as their identities. Can there be a connection with Sir Wilfred’s seemingly troubled family life, his highly successful business, or his high-handed and unforgiving personality? And what is the significance of the wallet found on the corpse, and the bank notes that it contained? 


What have you been reading lately?

21 thoughts on “Book Beginnings & The Friday 56: Death in the Tunnel by Miles Burton

  1. The writing pace behind publishing four mystery novels a year must have been murder! (Pun intended!) I do love an opening that seems so calm and normal, only to reveal a complex and difficult plot. I hope you continue to enjoy it and that you have a lovely weekend 🙂
    Juli @ A Universe in Words

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  2. Oh, this does sound intriguing, Margaret! You make an interesting point about the beginning, too. Sometimes really absorbing stories start off more slowly like that. I’ll be interested in what you think when you’ve finished.

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  3. This has been languishing on my TBR for ages since I enjoyed another of his novels, so I’m glad to hear you’re finding it a page-turner! Look forward to your review – maybe you’ll inspire me to actually read it sometime soon!

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  4. While not an exciting opening, I do like it. It’s the kind that eases you in from the sound of it. But that second excerpt is even more intriguing. I like the formality of the writing–true golden age mystery style. I hope you have a great weekend!

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    1. Agreed. I usually reserve judgment until after I read the first few paragraphs. The opening sentence or two can be a bit dull, but where it leads is what’s important. Sounds like an intriguing mystery over all.

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