Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Tuesday Night Bloggers, May Edition Week 3: My Many Miles Logged on Rhode Trips

And it's another May outing with your Tuesday Night Club Bloggers.  Tonight I look at transportation mysteries by electrical engineer and artillery and intelligence officer turned mystery writer Cecil John Charles Street (see below).  Here's are links to the other postings by members of the Club:

Agatha Christie's Advice for Going on Holiday (Cross Examining Crime, Kate Jackson)

All-But-One Aboard for for John Dickson Carr's "Cabin B-13" (The Invisible Event, Invisible Blogger)

The Heat Is On: Ellery Queen on Vacation (Ah Sweet Mystery Blog, Brad Friedman)

Seasoned Travellers at Home (Your Freedom and Ours, Helen Szamuely)

Holidays and How They Change (Clothes in Books, Moira Redmond)

Review of Aloha, Candy Hearts (Mysteries and More from Saskatchewan, Bill Selnes)

Interest in transportation is a notable feature in a number of the many of John Rhode and Miles Burton mysteries written by the prolific Cecil John Charles Street.  Some notable examples:

Tragedy on the Line (1931), Dead on the Track (1943) and Unwanted Corpse (1954) have dead bodies discovered on railroad tracks--but they haven't been killed by trains!  In the recently-reprinted Death in the Tunnel (1936), a murdered man is found in a train.

In Tragedy at the Unicorn (1928), The Secret of High Eldersham (1930), Death of Mr Gantley (1931) and the highly ingenious Shot at Dawn (1934), boats play a role in the tales.  Death on the Boat Train (1940) involves a dead body found on a, yes, boat train, en route from the Channel to London.  In Death at the Helm (1941), two dead bodies are discovered on a yacht.

John Street in real life was a great car enthusiast and some of his mysteries involve cars in important ways. In The Corpse in the Car (1935), a wealthy (and quite horrid) old woman is discovered dead in her limousine.  She's been slain in a particularly insidious manner.  The Motor Rally Mystery (1933) concerns cleverly engineered deaths during a British "motor rally," while Mystery at Olympia (1935) involves murder at a popular British motor show.

In Dead Men at the Folly (1932) there's much to-ing and fro-ing in autos on remote country lanes. Blackthorn House (1949) concerns a stolen car ring in early postwar England. In Proceed with Caution (1937), a body is discovered, most gruesomely, in a road crew's tar boiler. There's also a sinister funeral hearse with an empty coffin which is involved in the tale.  Street's last published detective novel, The Vanishing Diary (1961), involves a Volkswagen Beetle type car.

In The Charabanc Mystery (1934), a dead body is discovered on a bus carrying a team of village darts players, while Murder of a Chemist (1936) concerns a poisoning which takes place during a coach tour bus's stop at an inn.

Though people get in quite a bit of travel in Street's mysteries, they don't get out of that country that much. There is, however, Peril at Cranbury Hall (1930), where the fiendish murder which crotchety scientist Dr. Priestley must elucidate takes place in Belgium, and Murder in Absence (1954), where gentleman amateur sleuth Desmond Merrion and his wife Mavis economically take a Mediterranean cruise on a tramp steamer while the roof of their country seat, High Eldersham Hall, is being repaired. There they encounter sundry criminal shenanigans.

Desmond and Mavis also meet murder on the way while vacationing in England in other Miles Burton novels, such as Early Morning Murder (1945), Heir to Lucifer (1947), Ground for Suspicion (1950), Heir to Murder (1953) and Found Drowned (1956).

There is much more on many of these mysteries in my book Masters of the Humdrum Mystery.  I hope more of these novels will be reprinted someday!


  1. In The Charabanc Mystery (1934), a dead body is discovered on a bus carrying a team of village darts players,

    Could that be the most English concept for a mystery novel that anyone has ever come up with? Now I want to read it.

    1. Yes dfordoom! There should be a contest to see if anyone can come up with a plot involving even more features. And yes, now I want to read it too.

    2. LOL, yes, and the village I believe is called Dribbleford, so what more could you ask for, honestly.

  2. Since everyone is writing about trains and planes and sometimes boats I thought I'd try something else. I intended to do a post on bus tours in American mysteries thinking I'd find a lot. But I could only come up with four (two of which I read this year) and the rest were British mysteries. Damn! I'll keep looking and hope to have it for next Tuesday. The Americans and Canadians keep getting overlooked in these Tuesday Club posts and I'm determined to give them their due.

    1. We'll have one more next week, John, hope you make it!

  3. Nice post, Curt.
    Bill Selnes, from Mysteries and More, has put forward an older post of his about a PI on holiday in Hawaii, so when you get a minute perhaps you can add it..