Death in the Tunnel by Miles Burton – this is a British Library Crime Classic, first published in 1936, about the death of Sir Wilfred Saxonby who was found in a first class compartment of the 5 pm train from London to Stourford. He had been shot through the heart. Initially it was thought he had committed suicide while the train was passing through a long tunnel, but there seemed to be no reason why he should have wished to kill himself. Inspector Arnold of Scotland Yard became interested in the case when he heard of a strange incident that had taken place in the tunnel – a mysterious red light had caused the driver to slow down for a few moments. Unable to find out why this had happened and whether it had any relevance to Sir Wilfred’s death he consulted his friend Desmond Merrion, an amateur expert in criminology and between them they discovered what had happened.
It’s a complex mystery -a type of locked room puzzle. If Sir Wilfred hadn’t committed suicide, who had a motive for killing him? Because Sir Wilfred had asked to have the compartment to himself, the rear guard had locked the door and it was only opened when the train reached Stourford – so how could anyone have got in? A miniature automatic pistol with Sir Wilfred’s initials on it is found under his seat, but although he had a certificate for a revolver and a rifle he didn’t have one for an automatic pistol. Why is his train ticket was missing and what is the significance of his wallet and its contents. It puzzles Inspector Arnold and Merrion and it puzzled me too. First of all it is not at all clear, if it was murder, who was responsible – his family, his business employees or contacts, or was it because of his personality – who disliked him so much to want him dead. And on top of all that how had he been killed? This both a whodunnit and a howdunit – and it is most ingenious. If you, like me, enjoy this puzzle type of mystery you’ll enjoy this book.
Miles Burton is a pseudonym. His real name was Cecil John Charles Street (1884 – 1964) and he also wrote under the names of John Rhode and Cecil Way. In his Introduction to Death in the Tunnel Martin Edwards writes about Street’s career as a crime writer. He was a founder member of the elitist Detective Club and was and compiled an anthology of the work of the Club’s members, Detection Medley, and continued to publish crime novels until the 1960s. He was a prolific writer – see this list of his works on the Fantastic Fiction site.
- Publisher : British Library Publishing (10 May 2016)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 256 pages
- ISBN-10 : 071235641X
- ISBN-13 : 978-0712356411
- Source: my own book
- My Rating: 3*
3 thoughts on “Death in the Tunnel by Miles Burton”
I do like those puzzle-style mysteries, Margaret. And a train is a great setting for a mystery like this one, I think. You’re now the second person I trust who’s said that this book was enjoyable. I’m going to have to look out for it!
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Well this sounds very good and I must admit to a secret liking for railway based stories. Years ago I used to be obsessed with railway based ghost stories too!
I actually bought a copy of this one from a used library book sale…and I ended up really liking it. It’s a fun mystery. 🙂
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