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The Cornish Coast Murder
on 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.