By Miles Burton
First published: UK, Collins, 1931
I’ve read this, but don’t remember much. Very rural, with shepherds and an insane murderer. No Merrion; Inspector Arnold only. It’s based on the Polná case of 1899-1900, when villagers accused a Jew of ritually slaughtering local girls.
Mr. Miles Burton, as readers of his previous stories, The Secret of High Eldersham and The Three Crimes, know, prefers a quiet country village as the setting for his thrilling mysteries. In The Menace on the Downs Mr. Burton describes another village tragedy. Sydney Harper, the errand boy at the village store, is found dead by the roadside with his throat cut. The local police are unable to decide whether it is a case of accident, suicide, or murder. A broken bottle covered with blood, found on the spot, points to either of the former. The absence of the boy’s bicycle points to murder. The case is further complicated when, six months later, a second boy is found murdered on the railway line. Mr. Burton arrives at a solution with his customary skill, and his readers will agree that this is one of the most satisfying mysteries that the author has yet written.