Friday, April 18, 2014

John Bude’s “The Cornish Coast Murder”

John Bude was the pen name for Ernest Carpenter Elmore (1901-1957), a British theater producer and director. Beginning in the 1930s, he published crime novels under the name of John Bude, and managed to complete 30 of them by the time of his death. He also wrote fantasy novels and children’s stories.

The British Library has republished two of his crime novels, The Cornish Coast Murder and The Lake District Murder. In the introduction to The Cornish Coast Murder, crime novelist Martin Edwards said that the novel had a small print run when it was published in 1935, but Bude occupies a place in the golden age of the mystery and crime novel genre.

The story is fast-paced and intriguing. Julius Tregarthan, who occupies a home called The Greylings in Cornwall, has been murdered, shot in his study with a World War I service revolver. the crime doesn’t lack for potential suspects, including Julius’s niece Ruth and the man she’s in love with, Roland Hardy. Inspector William Merritt leads the investigation; he’s assisted by the local vicar, the Rev. Dodd. They soon discover that Ruth is hiding something and Roland Hardy has dis appeared.

The story isn’t exactly the classic country estate mystery; Julius Tregarthan has lived there year-round with his niece Ruth. But it has enough of the elements of the classic country estate mystery to make one expect to see Miss Jane Marple show up at any moment.

But it’s not a clichéd story. Actually, The Cornish Coast Murder is well written, with Bude keeping the reader engaged and intent upon learning where all of this is heading. A few minor quibbles the reader might have don’t detract from the overall story. It is of its time, the 1930s, but the writing quality keeps the story current and fresh.

And now I’m turning to The Lake District Murder.

Photograph: A Cornwall beach, by Mike Coates via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.

No comments: