Tuesday, December 26, 2017

#15 - The Secret of High Eldersham by Miles Burton (1931)


About this edition: This edition contains a teaser of the first chapter of the next edition (The Gutenberg Murders by Gwen Bristow and Bruce Manning).


About the author: Miles Burton is a pseudonym of Cecil John Charles StreetMCOBE (3 May 1884 – 8 December 1964), who was known to his colleagues, family and friends as John Street. Here is a Wikipedia article about him. He has one other title in the Mystery League series: The Hardway Diamonds Mystery.

Principal characters:
  • George Thorold - owner of the Rose and Crown tavern
  • Hugh Dunsford - former operator of the tavern
  • Samuel Whitehead - new operator of the tavern
  • Ned Portch - tavern patron
  • Walter Hosier - tavern patron
  • Constable Viney - the local constable
  • Colonel Bateman - Chief Constable of the County
  • Inspector Robert Young of Scotland Yard
  • Desmond Merrion, friend of Young, the civilian investigator
  • Newport, Merron's manservant
  • Sir William Owerton, magistrate and book collector
  • Mavis Owerton, his attractive daughter
  • Lt. Laurence Hollesley of Elder House
  • Thorburn, a.k.a. Gregson, Hollesley's manservant
Locale: The village of High Eldersham, England

Synopsis: Action centers around the Rose and Crown Tavern, a struggling little pub faced with a loss of business due to its isolated location. Hugh Dunsford, operator, can't make a go of it and the owner, George Thorold, finds a new operator: Samuel Whitehead, retired policeman. 

One evening Samuel Whitehead is found stabbed to death in the tavern, after closing hours. The money remains in the till, so what is the motive?

Nearby village High Eldersham has a quiet farming population and the locals don't particularly want anyone new around. 

Constable Viney inquires around the village, and suspicion initially falls on Ned Portch, one of the last to see Whitehead alive. Chief Constable Bateman calls in Scotland Yard, who sends Inspector Young. Young's friend Desmond Merrion does most the the legwork investigating, finding that the locals have taken up witchcraft and go all in for secret ceremonies in the woods, where they use a mommet doll to inflict injury and misery to various persons.

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