Book Review : Death in the Tunnel by Miles Burton

 A devilishly ingenious conspiracy

 

When Sir Wilfred Saxonby is found shot dead in a first-class compartment of the 5 p.m. train from London’s Cannon Street to Stourford, the police initially feel it is suicide committed when the train passed through a tunnel. Further investigation by Inspector Arnold of Scotland Yard, with the help of his friend, Desmond Merrion, an amateur in criminology, reveal a plot of mind-boggling conspiracy. Thus a murder investigation begins.

This story focuses primarily on how the crime was committed to find the culprit. The theories are formulated by Merrion for Arnold to follow up.

It’s like one of those double-barrelled equations, when as soon as you know the value of x, you can find the value of y, and vice versa.

Using this postulation of x and y and with the assumption of suspects A and B, the genius of a plot unfolds.

This book was originally published in 1936, in the era of Agatha Christie. Miles Burton is one of the pseudonyms used by Cecil John Street(1884-1965). If you are a Christie fan, you will find the writing of Street much different. This book does not delve into the human psyche to understand the characters’ motivation. It digs into creating a hypothesis to reconstruct the sequence of events that may have supposedly occurred eventually leading to the death of Sir Saxonby, to find the culprits. If you know how it was done, then its easy to find who could have done it by gathering relevant evidence. The book consists of long narrations in the form of the thoughts of the two investigators where they try to figure out the rigmarole of the conspiracy. Devising a theory and finding the evidence to support it, is the mechanism used by them. Readers are transported back in times of steam engines and telegrams. If you are a fan of detective fiction, this British Library Crime Classic is a must read.

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