The Cornish Coast Murder by John Bude (British Library Crime Classics) #CosyMystery Book Review #FridayReads

Author: John Bude

Republished: March 2014 by The British Library Publishing Division

Category: Crime, Mystery, Thriller, Police Procedural, Book Review

The Reverend Dodd, vicar of the quiet Cornish village of Boscawen, spends his evenings reading detective stories by the fireside – but heaven forbid that the shadow of any real crime should ever fall across his seaside parish.

This classic mystery of the golden age of British crime is set against the vividly described backdrop of a fishing village on Cornwall’s Atlantic coast. It is now republished for the first time since the 1930s with an introduction by the award-winning crime writer Martin Edwards.

Reverend Dodd, vicar of St Michael’s-on-the-Cliff, enjoys his Monday evening dinner engagements with Doctor Pendrill. Boscawen is a small isolated fishing village on the Cornish coast and both the vicar and the doctor look forward to their weekly meetings. Over an after dinner coffee they open the crate of library books each takes a turn in choosing, most commonly crime stories which they’re both addicted to, and are discussed in detail. Reverend Dodds has become quite good at solving mysteries by recalling previous twists, traps and detection methods, whereas they are proving a little more difficult for the doctor. 

One stormy Monday evening there’s an urgent phone call to the vicarage from Ruth Tregarthan, looking for the doctor. Her uncle has been shot at his house. For all the enjoyment he has reading about it, Reverend Dodds never imagined there could ever be such a crime as murder committed in this quiet little village. Julius Tregarthan wasn’t an easy man to like but what could have made someone shoot him?  Inspector Bigswell is the investigating officer but Reverend Dobbs can’t help but put his amateur detecting skills to the test, giving the inspector valuable help along the way. 

Never, even in his most optimistic moments, had he visualised a scene of this nature — himself in one arm-chair, a police officer in another, and between them . . . a mystery. 

I’ve been meaning to delve into the British Library Crime Classics for a while. The Cornish Coast Murder is Ernest Carpenter Elmore’s debut novel written, under his pen name of John Bude, in the mid 1930s. The setting of this one appealed to me initially and, although the pace is quite slow after the atmospheric opening scenes, it does pick up. 

There are several suspects, including Ruth Tregarthan and her friend, local author, Ronald Hardy. Ruth has been acting strangely and Ronald suffers from shell shock and has disappeared. Inspector Bigswell finds various contradicting clues and follows the trails, each one leading to a dead end. The reader has no prior knowledge of events, only privy to what is apparent to the police and the vicar, so working out who the culprit is was impossible – for me, anyway. Well before the advent of forensics, data collection and the more modern methods of policing we’re used to, the investigation comes down to good old fashioned police work, following the convoluted clues one step at a time. An entertaining story written in the style of the time, giving a glimpse into pre war rural life and good enough to make me want to read more. 

Book links ~ Amazon UK | Goodreads

About the Author

John Bude was the pseudonym of Ernest Elmore (1901-1957), an author of the golden age of crime fiction. Elmore was a co-founder of the Crime Writers’ Association, and worked in the theatre as a producer and director. His first two books, The Cornish Coast Murder and The Lake District Murder, were republished as British Library Crime Classics to great acclaim in 2014.

15 thoughts on “The Cornish Coast Murder by John Bude (British Library Crime Classics) #CosyMystery Book Review #FridayReads

  1. I read this on my Kindle a while ago and really enjoyed it; I love Cornwall, enjoy ‘being’ in the thirties and I liked the ‘railway poster’ style cover – not that I could see it once on my Kindle! I also read his story set in the Lake District ( another part of the country I love ), but that didn’t click with me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As an addict of these BL Crime Classics, I’m so glad you enjoyed it enough to want to read more. I haven’t read this one but have read a couple of John Bude’s other books. I’ve enjoyed them but he’s not my favourite of the ones I’ve read so far. The great thing about the series is that there’s so much variety in them – something for everyone, for sure! Hope you get hooked (you know addicts always want to drag others down with them… 😉 )

    Liked by 1 person

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