Death in the tunnel by Miles Burton

Death in the TunnelDeath in the Tunnel by Miles Burton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is another mystery with a super complicated solution. The culprits had to go to all sorts of lengths in order to commit their crime, and once more, this just doesn’t sound realistic at all. “Planes, trains and automobiles” could be the subtitle of this intricate construction.

It was an anjoyable read with a good country/town setting and – yet again – a great sidekick. I already liked Desmond Merrion in The secret of High Eldersham and again he was the best. Unfortunately I found the inspector rather dull and obstinate when he just wouldn’t give up his pet suspect. But as he was almost a secondary character – strange to say that about the main detective -, I just ignored him most of the time.

I’d love to read more stories with Merrion, but they are rather hard to come by. Too bad!

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The Hog’s Back Mystery by Freeman Wills Crofts

The Hog's Back Mystery (British Library Crime Classics)The Hog’s Back Mystery by Freeman Wills Crofts
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I keep saying the same thing. All the mysteries of the British Library Crime Classics I have read so far have this cozy setting, lovely landscape, typical country people and all that stuff. Absolutely entertaining, if you love that kind of thing.

The Hog’s Back Mystery is no exception, but I found the solution to the mystery slightly annyoing, as it was too complicated for my taste. If a mystery plot relies too much on minutes in the timeline I am not buying it anymore. This solution so much depended on exact timing of a couple of people that it was just not realistic any longer. And to be honest, with all the different locations and various murders I completely lost track of who did what regarding which crime.

A nice touch was that when the solution was presented the clues that were given were referenced with page numbers so the reader could actually go back to the exact spot in the book where it was mentioned or revealed. However, reading the story on a Kindle made this bonus pointless as I cannot go back to page 78 – bummer!

All in all, good as far as ambience was concerned, but plot wise I was slightly disappointed. There is a second book by the same author on that list which I will definitely check out to see if it has the same kind of complicated vibe.

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The Sussex Downs Murder by John Bude

The Sussex Downs Murder (Superintendent Meredith, #2)The Sussex Downs Murder by John Bude
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I am usually absolutely oblivious to any clues and any hints as to who is the murderer. Really, I never know beforehand. Exception: this one. After about half way (and this indicates that every other reader knows after the first chapter) I figured who the killer was and had to wonder what was wrong with the inspector that he couldn’t see it. What was going on was obvious.

Nevertheless, this was a very enjoyable read (and for once I was ahead of the police) with great surroundings, typical English countryside atmosphere and a story that kept you interested.

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The secret of High Eldersham by Miles Burton

The Secret of High Eldersham: A British Library Crime Classic (British Library Crime Classics Book 1)The Secret of High Eldersham: A British Library Crime Classic by Miles Burton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Highly entertaining! The setting is as good as it can possibly be. A secluded village in East Anglia with inhabitants that are more than odd, the through roads are little more than country paths and basically no stranger has ever reason to set foot into it. Strangely enough no vicar this time, but who needs one when you have a cult leader making up for that lack of cleric support?

I liked the characters, Desmond Merrion and his sidekick Newport are very promising. I am not sure if Inspector Young is in the following novels as well but I wouldn’t mind. Those two work well together.

The occult angle is explained in a satisfactory way and I found the atmosphere dealing with that part of the story really exciting. The first mention of the wax doll was already doing its job but when it came to Desmond spying on the coven at night I was devouring the pages. Thank God that the leader didn’t turn out to be mad (something I was afraid of), but his strange disposition was explained in a credible way.

All in all a very good read that made the time just fly.

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The Cornish Coast Murder by John Bude

The Cornish Coast MurderThe Cornish Coast Murder by John Bude
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

We are getting thrown into the murder story pretty much at the start of the book as the doctor gets called to the crime scene while having dinner with the vicar. I very much enjoyed the setting in a Cornish village by the sea, the detailed descriptions that brought all the scenes to life and all the characters involved in the mystery. It was a very comfortable and cosy read, even though there was not much guesswork or sleuthing possible on the reader’s side. Not that I am any good at it anyway, but here it was absolutely impossible to know who the culprit was. There were tons of false clues, left behind either on purpose or accidentally, and the detective was in the dark until the very end as well. If it hadn’t been for the vicar and his memory the murder might not have been solved at all.

So as far as elaborate plot and sophisticated detecting are concerned “The Cornish Coast Murder” leaves a little to be desired.

Also, be prepared for some outdated views on women. A few delightful examples:

She was distraught […] and therefore liable to indulge an utterly unreasonable whim. Women are often unreasonable, Inspector. Illogical, too.

Of course.

…a woman in love was always a foolhardy and unresonable creature. though not devoid […] of a certain inspired cunning.

We might be unreasonable, but we do know how to trick and deceive people.

The garden is fifteen feet in length. This argues a poor shot. Probably a woman.

Heaven forbid there are poor shots among men. Or women good at shooting.

You just have to take that stuff in stride.

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The Notting Hill Mystery by Charles Warren Adams

 Cover The Notting Hill Mystery by Charles Warren Adams

In a nutshell:

Short synopsis:

Insurance investigator tries to prove a murder (or three)

Language I read the book in: English

Did I like it? Absolutely. I loved it.

For people who: old fashioned like detective novels, modern detective novels, epistolary novels

My thoughts:

The Notting Hill Mystery is said to be the first detective novel (published 1862-1863), even though some claim otherwise. Whether it is or not is irrelevant. I was so mesmerized by it I couldn’t put it down. Even though the crime and the perpetrator are clear from the start the suspense comes from finding out how the murderer did it and how the detective finds evidence. Not that we ever accompany the detective on his investigations, the whole book is a presentation of evidence in the form of floor plans, letters, statements and testimonials from witnesses and I can only begin to imagine how much time and effort it cost poor Henderson to track down people and get them to cooperate. There are dubious circus managers, insurance clerks, maids fired for petty theft, there is no end to the list of people who have something to contribute.

Things that nowadays take 5 minutes to find out with the help of an email to Australia, must have taken months then, but Henderson perseveres. A word of caution: In order to go with the flow and accept the solution to the mystery you need to be open to rather esoteric (or mumbo jumbo, depending on your point of view) topics,  but, really, the story is so well told and from so many different perspectives that it hardly matters whether you believe in animal magnetism or not.

Baron R** deserves a place among the top fiends in detective fiction.  He achieves the results he wants in such a casual way that people who do his bidding actually do not even realize this and rather think he wanted them to do the opposite. Very admirable, when you come to think of it. Even at the end of the book it is more than questionable whether his crimes can ever be proven and whether he can be prosecuted (let alone convicted). It is obvious he did it, but nailing him down is another matter. Brilliant!

Right from the start The Notting Hill Mystery reminded me of another favourite detective novel by Dorothy L. Sayers and Robert Eustace which came much later (1930) called “The documents in the case”. In that book the whole case is presented in the form of documents (letters, witness reports etc.) without any detective work as we know it going on.

Absolutely loved this one. I highly recommend it.

Product info and buy link :

Title The Notting Hill Mystery
Author Charles Warren Adams
Publisher The British Library Publishing Division
ISBN 9780712358590
I got this book from John
Buy link Buy The Notting Hill Mystery
More info Read about The Notting Hill Mystery in The Guardian
And some more info Find The Notting Hilly Mystery at the Internet Archive (Links at the bottom of the Wikipedia article)

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Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.