DEATH IN THE TUNNEL (1936) by Miles Burton

I try, as much as possible, to keep my writing on this site focused on cinema and film related material. However, that doesn’t mean my interests extend no further. My friend Sergio is a regular visitor and commenter here and, seeing as his site is a bit more flexible in its approach than mine, he was kind enough to allow me to contribute my thoughts on a novel a while back and left the offer open. As a result I took him up on that and if you follow the links in this post you can see my latest effort. And while you’re there, you could do a whole lot worse than browse around his ever excellent site.

Tipping My Fedora

burton_death-in-the-tunnell_blThis is a bit of a special post – I have so far managed to get through life without reading a single novel by John Rhode, who often published as Miles Burton and whose real name was Cecil John Street. So I am really happy to have one of his books reviewed here at Fedora – only not by me. Instead this fine analysis come to you courtesy of our very good blogging buddy Colin (aka ‘Livius’) of the mighty party Riding the High Country blog, who has once again graciously agreed to write a guest post for Fedora.

We submit this review for Bev’s Golden Age Mystery Scavenger Hunt; and Friday’s Forgotten Books meme, hosted today by Todd Mason at his Sweet Freedom blog.

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15 thoughts on “DEATH IN THE TUNNEL (1936) by Miles Burton

  1. An interesting and rather fun departure from norm here, Colin.

    These British Library Crime Classics are growing in number and are very attractively presented. I have been tempted to buy a handful of them, with mixed results. Not yet read a Miles Burton and not sure, after reading your thoughts, whether I should try or not.

    The first thing one has to do is suspend 21st century tastes and put your mind back to the 1930s in order to enjoy these books. Of those I have read so far, the two I enjoyed most were written by Freeman Wills Croft who had a long writing career and, according to Martin Edwards, was the equal in popularity to Agatha Christie in the 30s. The style IS dry compared with today’s writing but these books are a wonderful snapshot of England in an age past, but not THAT long past in reality. Croft’s Inspector French is very believable, understated but meticulous in his investigations. And “12.30 From Croydon” is told from the viewpoint of a murderer, which I found fascinating.

    Love the artwork on these BLCC books too.

    • Thanks, Jerry. You know, the thing is I like detective fiction from this era a lot – much more than the modern equivalent in fact – but there are examples which can be very dry. I mean I’m a big fan of the writing of John Dickson Carr, Agatha Christie, Christianna Brand, and from across the pond of Ellery Queen, S S Van Dine & Rex Stout, to name just a handful. Those people didn’t have the dryness that parts of this book displayed so it’s not simply a matter of an older style of writing, for me anyway.
      I’ve read some crofts in the past, and still have some more on the shelves, and while I agree he was on the dry side too I also think he was very good at constructing plots.
      I’m a bit hot and cold over this one – there are some aspects i found very attractive and others ( that suspects A and B & cheques 1,2 and 3 business) that irritated after a bit.

  2. Always lovely to see someone diversifying into classic detective fiction, Colin — more, more! I have this but, the last Burton I read being a complete dud, I’m saving it for a little while. You’re not wrong about Arnold, though — not only is he dull, he’s needlessly sharp-tongued and has a habit of not spotting what’s right in front of him. Frankly, the man is very hard to root for…!

    • Cheers, JJ. I seem to have plenty to occupy me with movie scribblings but as a ‘tec novel fan I do enjoy throwing my thoughts out there on occasion.
      I’ll admit that I badly wanted to see someone give Arnold a good slap at times! Merrion, his amateur sidekick was much more appealing, although not particularly fleshed out either.

      • In fairness to Rhode/Burton/Street, he put out books at such a rate that character probably wasn’t high on his list of concerns. “Plenty of nuanced explorations of grief out there if you want them; here’s how to kill a man using a giant marrow” — the ultimate in giving people what they want!

        • Indeed, a variety of storytelling styles is no bad thing – it lets everybody find the kind that best appeals to them. Having said that, I do like to at least know what the people I’m reading about look like, even if the characterization is weak. 🙂

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