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Review - Miles Burton 'The Three Crimes'

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  • Ronaldo
    Here is the latest, a very early Burton title, which I have also uploaded to the wiki. Review – Miles Burton `The Three Crimes The third Burton title, and
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 1, 2007
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      Here is the latest, a very early Burton title, which I have also uploaded to the wiki.


      Review – Miles Burton `The Three Crimes'


      The third Burton title, and the second to feature series sleuth Desmond Merrion, this was
      first published in 1931, during a period when Major Street was rapidly expanding his
      repertoire. His John Rhode books were pretty well established, having been published
      since 1925, and at the same time as the first Burton books he had also embarked on the
      Cecil Waye series, which eventually only survived for four titles. Between 1930 and 1933
      he had an astonishing 22 books published under the three pseudonyms and it is not
      surprising that one of them was abandoned if his publishers required this rate of output to
      continue. Why the Burton titles continued and the Waye books did not is a matter of
      conjecture, though the former may have been more lucrative since they were published
      under the Collins Crime Club imprint.

      Here, the mystery begins when renowned financier Sir Charles Formby, who has ruined
      many people through his activities in the City, is poisoned during a channel crossing from
      France. His son Brian has an obvious motive but absolutely no opportunity and the police
      investigation falters. However, when an infamous rake named Pilkington is found
      murdered while enjoying a yachting holiday the investigators attentions turn to Sir Hubert
      Massinghurst, husband of his latest mistress. But again there is plain motive but a cast
      iron alibi to frustrate enquiry. Merrion begins to develop a theory that might explain
      matters, but before he can develop it he unaccountably disappears. When an unsuccessful
      attempt is made on the life of a notorious blackmailer the police finally get a clue, which
      leads them towards the perpetrators of all three crimes.

      This mystery finds an author still developing the style that was to become an intrinsic part
      of these books for the next thirty years. Indeed, it was not until `Death of Mr. Gantley', the
      fifth book in the series, that the pieces finally all came together, with Merrion and his long
      time cohort Inspector Arnold working together, usually in a fictitious rural or seaside
      location. Here the chief police investigator is Inspector Young, who had worked with
      Merrion in the previous book, and while Arnold appears briefly he is very much a sketchy
      and secondary character – for instance we are not told his rank. However, the denouement
      of this mystery leaves Inspector Young determined to leave the police force, paving the
      way for Arnold to take centre stage in the next book.

      Whilst it is in many ways a transitional book, this still contains many of the elements which
      devotees of this series will recognise and admire. Notoriously difficult to track down, it will
      be a mystery that many would be very pleased to add to their collection.

      R E Faust
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