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HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 21 December 2015
This is a charming mystery, first published in 1935, and was the crime writing debut of Ernest Carpenter Elmore (who chose ‘John Bude’ as his pseudonym). The book begins with two friends; the Reverend Dodd, Vicar of St Michael’s-on-the-Cliff and Dr Pendrill. The two meet up weekly for dinner and to share their love of detective fiction, both enjoy attempting to solve the fictional mysteries they read. However, on a stormy night, their evening is interrupted by Ruth Tregarthan, who calls to say that someone has shot and killed her uncle, Julius.

Murder is unheard of in this tiny, coastal retreat of scattered cottages and the two men are astonished. Yet, Julius Tregarthan lies shot dead in his study and Ruth is acting oddly. She has been very friendly with an author named Ronald Hardy. Known to be shell shocked in the last war, his behaviour was strained when Reverend Dodd last met him and now he has disappeared. Despite his misgivings, it is soon apparent that the Reverend cannot resist the chance to try to solve a real life puzzle.

For Inspector Bigswell, the murder case is a chance to make his mark and he sets to work enthusiastically, before the ‘experts’ are called in. He finds himself with several suspects and much conflicting evidence. The Reverend Dodd is, though, not convinced by Inspector Bigswell’s line of enquiry and favoured suspects and sets out to solve the case himself. This is a delightful, Golden Age mystery, although the ending is a little weak. Still, the setting and characters made this an enjoyable read and I would certainly read more books by John Bude.
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on 15 June 2016
It was a treat to discover this forgotten mystery from the 1930s. It's a well-crafted story with a strong sense of pre-war Cornish atmosphere. There are some aspects here that I preferred to more well-known crime novels from this period: servants and working people are treated AS people and not like stereotyped buffoons, as is all too common in more snobbish novels from the period. Some of the so-called "greats" (Christie, Sayers) lack the humanity towards the lower classes evident here. This breadth of humanity extends to the local police inspector who is intelligent, open-minded and willing to cooperate with the amateur sleuth (vicar). This contrasts favourably with the crass inspectors who act as foils for clever amateurs from Conan Doyle onwards. Moreover the same level of intelligence and common sense is evident in the ordinary constables and the police act as a team. The caricatures that grate in other novels from the period are avoided. Another strength is the combination of humour and seriousness: murder is both a puzzle and a tragedy. In that sense there is a moral depth that compares with the later Dorothy L. Sayers, though perhaps without the complexity. On the down side the reader could not really solve the puzzle. We find out the evidence at the same time as the police detective and the helpful amateur. This amateur, the vicar, is a likeable, kindly and humane character (I seem to be using the word "humane" a lot - it seems apposite for this novel). Gentle fun is poked at his foibles but he provides a moral centre for the novel as well as an intelligent solver of the mystery. We see his progression from solving murders as fireside fun to a real death. The Cornish setting, before the madness of mass tourism, is delightful, and never quaint: the First World War casts its long shadow. People suffer from social ills such as bad landlordism, or gambling addiction. Reading crime novels from the thirties offers an escape from the excessive horror of some contemporary crime fiction. In this novel there is a lightness of touch that befits the genre as it was seen at the time, before it developed literary pretensions. I will look for other novels by "John Bude" (a pseudonym) and other reprints of forgotten gems.
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on 24 May 2016
The age of this book is shown in the vocabulary used and the excellence of John Bude's use of English. We are introduced to the story through central characters the Reverend Dodd and his friend the local doctor. Next we hear of the murder and meet the Policemen who conduct the investigation and we get to know a little about the main suspects. The plot develops, seemingly as an 'open and shut' case, until the deep thinking Reverend makes his contribution to solving the crime. Quite a number of people in the community would seem to have things to hide and helped by Dodd, eventually the investigation is brought to a successful conclusion. Perhaps like me you may find the plot rather convoluted.
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on 5 May 2016
This book is a great find. OK, there are bits of it that are VERY old fashioned, such as the rather chauvenistic views on women's temperament and reactions, but this book was a riveting, comfortable read and the writing was so smooth and natural, it fairly zipped along.

This is from the golden age if Crime Writing and the first crime novel from such an important figure in Crime Writing circles. No, it's not in the leagues of Agatha Christie et al, but it doesn't pretend to be anything other than the cosy book that it is.

If I'm picking holes with the story, my first question won't spoil the plot as it comes out of the first page. I know we now live in supposedly busier times, but did two professional men really have enough time in those days to read so many library books in a week???

I suppose I need to post a spoiler alert for my second question. If the murderer was close enough to throw gravel at the window from where they committed the crime to attract the victim's attention, how come the niece, who was nearer to the window examining what was in her hand by the light from the uncurtained window, a) Didn't notice the three bullet holes in the glass and b) Didn't notice the dead body!

Anyway, that aside, this book was a joy to find and I look forward to others of its ilk.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 24 July 2017
This is the second British Crime Library book I have read and I really enjoy them..

I do plan to read them all.

When Ruth Tregarthan finds her Uncle shot in the head, it sets of a chain of suspicion, accusation and mystery.

The Reverend Dodd, local Vicar and Doctor Pendrill, meet every week for dinner and divide out their recent delivery of library books. Both are avid detective fans. so as Doctor Pendrill is called upon when Julius Tregarthen is found dead, the Vicar especially is 'delighted' about the chance to solve a real life puzzle.

John Bude's debut novel is a gem of a read. It does kind of go all over the place during the revealing of the killer, but it is a crime novel with enormous strength. I won't compare it with the great Agatha Christie as some have, as it does lack in certain areas, but with the Cornish setting and the plot of Lord of the Manor and the lower classes of the era, it is a rather delightful and gripping tale. 

I am so glad The British Crime Library have decided to reprint such novels, most of the original copies are now extremely rare, and to be able to read such books is quite exciting. The two books I have read from this series have dated really well, I don't get the impression I am reading an 'ancient' story. 

This is a novel that will interest crime fiction fans and is such a cozy murder mystery that I am sure many will become a fan too.
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VINE VOICEon 4 July 2015
This is a whodunnit published and set in the 1930s, which evokes comparisons with Agatha Christie, though the characters in this novel are all rather more ordinary than those in at least the most famous Christie novels. It concerns the murder of a rather unsympathetic man with whom, naturally, lots of people have reason to have done away, against the background of the Cornish coast and local village at a fairly unfriendly time of year. The main sleuth is the local vicar, though the efforts of the local police are covered more fully here than they often are in such whodunnits. It's all quiet and very English, and a pleasant read, though I didn't really find the vicar a particularly convincing sleuth.
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on 21 May 2016
Oh what a delightful antidote to the frantic, crazy, lurid, speeding car chase of a world we live in.
This book is a journey not a destination. It's a Worther's Original not a bag of Haribo.
The names alone make it worth the read - Reverend Dodd, Doctor Pendrill , Inspector Bigswell . And the chapter headings- "The missing revolver" "The open window" "The mystery solved" It felt like a grown up Famous Five book. I loved every second of it- due in part,possibly, that I read it on a stormy afternoon, ensconced an old armchair beside a cheerful fire in an old Devon farmhouse (not quite the Cornish coast but near as dam it).If I'd only had a pipe and slippers my transportation to a bygone era would have been complete.
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on 19 September 2014
An interesting period piece — I had to Google the differences between Bank of England and Treasury notes — in a part of the country I now live in: Cornwall. Very much a deductive detective story with an array of characters, sketched rather than fully-fleshed, but nevertheless providing the necessary misleading clues and cul-de-sacs before the final dénouement. The real detective of the piece is the rotund parson of the parish, but we see everything through the local constabulary inspector assigned to the case. Nicely paced, well-written and with an implicit logic underlying the murder. Starts with a physical storm, all thunder and lightning, and at the disclosure a repressed emotional and psychological trauma within the actual killer. A recommended read for a leisurely evening or a sunny day (on a Cornish beach, perhaps?).
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VINE VOICEon 21 December 2014
To enjoy this the reader must read it in the spirit of the genre as it was written in the golden age of Brirish crime fiction in the 30s before psychology and gore pushed out the boundaries of crime and crime-writing. There is little sub-text but many twists and turns. The characters are rounded and gel well together. Bigswell is of the Dixon of Dock Green type. It is refreshingly simple, almost naive, innocemt if murder can be innocent. The plot is tight and Vicar Dodds manipulates Boigswell in the nicest possible way. Set in Cornwall that feature adds to a lovely read and I intend to read the other John Bude novels.
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on 11 March 2017
Really enjoyed this. I am an avid crime fiction reader, but the first time I have come across this author. It's a good old fashioned murder mystery told in the language and manner of 'decades ago' when it was written. Made a change to read something lighter than the usual modern hard core fiction. I would probably read other books by this author and would recommend.
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