MR. WESTERBY MISSING (1940)
Has it ever happened that you have wanted to shake the police-man sleuth in a novel, asking him to wake up? He is one of the finest, an officer of Scotland Yard, and yet why is he so clueless? It happened to me in John Rhode’s The Murders in Praed Street and now Cecil Street under his other pseudonym, Miles Burton, gives us another such dumb policeman in Mr. Westerby Missing. I am no great-shakes at sleuthing but I became suspicious of a character right from his/ her first entrance and the suspicions soon solidified into conviction…but inspector Arnold continued to be his dumb self (till the last when everything was crystal clear to everybody but our inspector) till the amateur sleuth Desmond Merrion spelled out everything to him. If it was a ploy to make the amateur shine vis a vis the professional obtuse, it was a cheap shot.
First Line: Inspector Arnold sat in his room at Scotland Yard, a telephone to his ear.
Publication Details: London: Collins (The Crime Club), 1940
First Published: 1940
TRAGEDY AT THE THIRTEENTH HOLE (1933)
Inspector Arnold is in much better form in this earlier novel.
Mr. Nicholas Burnside, the Sauce-King (“One drop makes all the difference”) is playing golf with his nephew, Captain Guy Burnside, when suddenly he drops dead. The Inquest reveals that it was the golf-ball hit by Guy Burnside that inadverently caused his uncle’s death after it hit him on his temple. It is declared as a tragic accident but soon tongues start wagging as Burnside inherits his uncle’s immense fortune. Was the shot then just an unlucky stroke or was there more behind it? And why did a poor aristocratic archaeologist meet a nasty accident just a little distance from the 13th hole?
Inspector Arnold, recuperating from a bout of influenza at Heaven-Beach gets involved in the investigation and invites his friend Desmond Merrion to join him in investigating the case. Unfortunately, the dearth of suspects makes the culprit easy to identify though I am not convinced about his/ her motives.
First Line: “But I’m perfectly fit now, sir,” Inspector Arnold maintained obstinately.
Publishing Details: London: Collins (The Crime Club), 1933.
First Published: 1933
Other Books read of the same author:
The Murders in Praed Street (1928)
The Motor Rally Mystery (1933)
Miles Burton is one of the authors I’ve selected for Six-Shooter Reading Challenge hosted by Rick Mills @ Mystillery. This is an absolutely no-stress challenge [(even reviews are not mandatory (though always welcome)] in which you read six mysteries of the same author. It is an interesting challenge because reading books by the same author makes one aware of certain tropes employed by the author which might not be very clear if one was to read only a couple of books of the author in a year. And secondly, Rick is a very generous host because every body who completes the challenge, get a book as a prize. You can join the challenge over here.
Submitted for Friday’s Forgotten Books @ Todd Mason’s Sweet Freedom.
21 thoughts on “Forgotten Books: Two Novels by Miles Burton”
I have not read anything by this author and now I see that he has written lots and lots of books. Maybe someday. I have such a huge backlog of physical books to read.
I like the sound of that challenge but I cannot add another one this year. The way things are going it may be difficult to keep up with any challenges. Although, I will admit that one of my goals is to pick one author (or two) to read multiple books by in 2020… I am thinking one contemporary author and one vintage.
Tracy, he was indeed very prolific. And to think he was a military and administrative officer too. Where did he get the time????????????? Writing a blog post takes hours for me!
I wish you would give the challenge a shot because even if you are unable to finish a target, you can just carry it forward to the next year. I am looking forward to your goal of reading multiple books of the same author, esp keen to see which contemporary author you’ll choose because my knowledge of the contemporary crime-scene is really limited.
I’ve only read this author under his John Rhodes pseudonym and found it to be a mixed bag…some very good, some very dull. I was wondering if his Miles Burton books were any different. I guess not?
Welcome to the blog, Laurie.
Of the handful of books that I have read of this author, I found THE MOTOR RALLY MYSTERY to be the best. Yet to read anything that really stands-out.
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Thanks. Might give it a try…if I can find it. Always willing to revisit an author based on a good recommendation.
Hope you find it. And look out for a sequence involving ‘Love’.
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I haven’t read any Burton at all, and probably won’t, because I’m not much for puzzle mysteries. But I love the way you reviewed these!
Thank you, Matt. very encouraging for me that you liked the reviews.
Thanks for calling by the other day and leaving a message. I am really pleased to see you are still here doing your bit. My wife reads loads but I suspect you have probably read a lot more books than she has. She uses one of those kindle things now. And likes that she can download books as she pleases, although she has always prefered real books. But they are getting more expensive and you dont see bookshops much now.
The world is a bit mad at present so take care . . . . .
Wow Rob, so good to see you over here!
I am not sure I have read more then your wife:) My reading has really slowed down these last couple of years. I too read e books though they don’t give me the kind of pleasure that physical books give but so many books are now only available in e format…
You too please take care. Stay healthy and happy. And please continue to blog because the world needs a good cheer.
Where on earth did you find Tragedy at the 13th Hole?
Glad you dropped by, Nick. Welcome.
Borrowed the book from a library. They have a few more Burton/ Rhode but unfortunately now everything is locked-down.
Street’s murderers can be very easy to spot – and his policemen rather gormless. Arnold will insist that the victim was bitten by a snake, or that schoolboys make cyanide sandwiches as a joke or to see what poison tastes like. But I like Street’s solid construction. He’s rarely exciting or surprising, but he’s reliable.
Ah, yes, the good old days when libraries were open! How are you handling the lockdown?
Great suggestions! How did Arnold make it to the Scotland Yard? A case of nepotism?? I like Street’s methods of murder. Very ingenious. Vegetable Duck, anyone?
The library being closed down is really very saddening. As for the lockdown, well I have been allowed to work from home. We bought food items and other groceries, so there is no need to venture out of the house. Have always been more of a home-body so staying at home is not a problem (the one thing I miss most is the trip to the library) but the apprehension and uncertainty and the alarming numbers are always hovering in one’s mind.
Hope you and your loved ones are doing well.
I enjoy Miles Burton when I can find them. I have The Hardway Diamonds Mystery, published by the Mystery League. My synopsis here >> https://themysteryleague.blogspot.com/2017/11/10-hardway-diamonds-mystery-1930.html?showComment=1588778084356#c7172310706456416017
Also have The Secret of High Eldersham. See >> http://themysteryleague.blogspot.com/2017/12/15-secret-of-high-eldersham-by-miles.html
I find John Rhode/ Miles Burton somewhat of an oxymoron🙂. Ingenious methods of murder but rather easy to spot murderers.
Thanks for the links Rick, I’ll have a look.