Rezension zu "Secret of High Eldersham (British Library Crime Classics)" von Miles Burton
Samuel Whitehead, landlord of the Rose and Crown, is a stranger in the lonely East Anglian village of High Eldersham. When the newcomer is stabbed to death in his pub, and Scotland Yard are called to the scene, it seems that the veil dividing High Eldersham from the outside world is about to be lifted. Detective-Inspector Young forms a theory about the case so utterly impossible that merely entertaining the suspicion makes him doubt his own sanity. Surrounded by sinister forces beyond his understanding, and feeling the need of rational assistance, he calls on a brilliant amateur and 'living encyclopedia', Desmond Merrion. Soon Merrion falls for the charms of a young woman in the village, Mavis Owerton. But does Mavis know more about the secrets of the village than she is willing to admit?
lovely, lovely cover! The British Library Crime Classics are the super models
among today’s paperbacks. All ridiculously handsome. One glance is enough, and
you want to take them all home.
What are you saying? That we should talk a bit about the contents too? Of course! Here we go:
Are you familiar with the name Miles Burton? No? Well, neither was I originally. The gentleman also wrote under the name John Rhode churning out over 140 novels in his relatively short career, many of which are extremely rare today and highly sought after by collectors of classic crime fiction. How nice, that the British Library has reprinted two of his works!
The Secret Of High Eldersham was one of his early novels, and also the book introducing his amateur sleuth Desmond Merrion. Merrion is rich, handsome and he has a butler. Fortunately though he is less annoying than Dorothy L. Sayers’ Peter Wimsey.
There are queer things going on in High Eldersham. It seems that every stranger that arrives in this remote village is sooner or later struck by misfortune. A sinister force protects the life of the inhabitants from outside interference. When the landlord of the local pub is stabbed to death, Detective Inspector Young from Scotland Yard initially struggles with his investigation, unable to establish any motive. But then he happens upon a small doll with a needle pierced through its heart. Apparently some people in High Eldersham are practicing witchcraft. But could such ancient superstition really be alive in 20th century England? Young calls upon his good friend, amateur detective Desmond Merrion and together they manage to shed light on some sinister events unmasking a greater evil.
If I could, I would give this book 3,5 stars, since it has a lot of entertaining elements, even though eventually it ends up being less than the sum of its parts. One would think, a book that features a coven of witches would be full of dense atmosphere, but Miles Burton doesn’t make as good use of this, as perhaps a John Dickson Carr would have. Occasionally the novel comes over as a bit bland. It has to be noted also, that it is not really a traditional whodunit, verging into thriller territory in its last third, with the people who had been acting suspiciously all along turning out to be the villains.
It’s good clean fun nonetheless, enough to make one curious about the rest of Burton’s oeuvre.