If it was a case of murder, it was a case with remarkably few clues. When members of the Maplewood family and their servants broke down the bathroom door, they found the body of Basil Maplewood, who apparently died while getting into his bath. Certainly there was nobody else in the locked bathroom. And yet there was no indication at all of how the young man might have died. Even the post-mortem didn't come up with a likely cause of death. You'd have to say, really, that in this case, "Death Leaves No Card." Which is the title of the Golden Age mystery by Miles Burton which is the subject of today's audio review on the "Classic Mysteries" podcast. You can listen to the full review by clicking here.
"Miles Burton" was one of the pen names used by Cecil John Charles Street, who also wrote as John Rhode and Cecil Way. As Burton, he produced a long series of mysteries featuring Scotland Yard Inspector Henry Arnold and amateur investigator Desmond Merrion. Merrion is absent from "Death Leaves No Card," and Arnold has the field to himself in this very enjoyable locked room/impossible crime mystery from 1939.
As I said earlier, the victim was found alone inside the locked bathroom. He had not drowned. He had not been poisoned. There were no marks of violence on the body. He was, physically, in good health. So how did he die? And why? And who did it? Let me warn you: readers may think they have some pretty good ideas on the subject - but are likely to find that Burton has quite skillfully misled them.
"Death Leaves No Card," in other words, is an excellent traditional mystery, and the "howdunit" is every bit as important as the "whodunit" element. Inspector Arnold, even without his usual cohort, Desmond Merrion, is no slouch and connects the dots quite thoroughly to reveal a pattern that is likely to surprise the reader.
One note on editions: "Death Leaves No Card" is in print, or, to be accurate, print-on-demand, from Ramble House. The Amazon links above will tell you that only a hardcover edition is available. Not so. If you're interested in the trade paperback edition, you can use this link to find and order it directly from Ramble House.