By Miles Burton
First published: UK, Collins, 1947
One of the experimental Burtons, like Early Morning Murder – and like E. M. M., not wholly satisfying! (Do we want the mixture as before?) Agreeable, if leisurely paced, with more characterization and wit than normal – but a weaker problem. Little who (or even how-) dunnit pull; Merrion is as much an observer of the large English family as he is a sleuth. The solution to two of the three murders is handed to him on a plate, and these are Victorian triple decker novel material. SPOILER (Oh, plus the butler did it.) He only properly solves the first death, using reason and deductions. The murderer gets away with it, too, because Merrion’s case is “imagination”!
Desmond Merrion, late of Naval Intelligence, and his wife Mavis go to the little seaside town of Croylehaven to spend a holiday. The place is practically owned by the wealthy Croyle family, who live in the large, ugly Castle Croyle. The present head of the family, Lord Cryle, an old gentleman of eighty, generally known as Lucifer, is surrounded by a large number of more or less expectant heirs. It is peculiarly fitting, therefore, that Desmond Merrion, expert investigator, should be at hand when death enters the grim Victorian mansion and tragedy descends on the Croyle family.