The Cornish Coast Murder by John Bude (JS)
Review by Jacqui Slaney
I love murder… let me rephrase that, I love the old fashioned murder mysteries, that you get from Agatha Christie, Dorothy L Sayers etc, so when this title popped up as recommended for me as I like such and such, I could not resist.
This is the description:
‘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.' 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. However, the vicar's peace is shattered one stormy night when Julius Tregarthan, a secretive and ill-tempered magistrate, is found at his house in Boscawen with a bullet through his head. The local police inspector is baffled by the complete absence of clues. Suspicion seems to fall on Tregarthan's niece, Ruth - but surely, that young woman lacks the motive to shoot her uncle dead in cold blood? Luckily for Inspector Bigswell, the Reverend Dodd is on hand, and ready to put his keen understanding of the criminal mind to the test.
I must admit I had not heard of this author, but within a few pages, I was hooked by the story.
The writing is descriptive, and sets the scene for the reader so you can visualise the characters in their daily lives and the dramatic Cornish coastline. A storm opens the story and this dominates all events. However, the description is not overdone and unlike in some stories, does not slow the narrative, which is good as the pace is brisk and enjoyable.
There are not loads of murders and action, just a cleverly written tale with loads of twists, turns and false leads that keep you entertained.
The character of the Reverend is excellent, I liked him a lot. I was a bit worried at the start that he might be pompous and overbearing, but he is a joy to read and gently points out to the usual police officers the error of their ways.
I suppose my only slight complaint is that some of the secondary characters are not fleshed out a lot, such as the niece, and the little you read about her, doesn’t make her very sympathetic, so you do not feel for her predicament.
The author cleverly changes the point of view between the Inspector and Reverend as well, so you can see the clues the Inspector finds and so agree that he has seemingly solved the mystery. Then however you jump to Dodd’s chapter and you realise that what you thought is completely wrong.
There are clues that let you solve the mystery, this is not one of those books where a surprise murderer appears with a motive that you had not been told about before. But the clues are cleverly hidden so when you spot them, you feel very pleased with yourself.
Whether you solve the murder yourself or just follow along with the Reverend either way I am sure that this story will be enjoyed, it’s not a long read, but definitely worthwhile.
8 out of 10