by John Bude
There seems to be a lot of interest at the moment in period dramas, particularly on the TV and film. There may well be a similar fashion in books, but I can’t say I have noticed it if there is. Certainly, following a crime set in a previous era brings with it some interesting twists – the lack of DNA, changes in technology and policing methods makes the work of the hard-pressed detective even more difficult. I have to admit that I myself enjoy these period pieces which I why I have enjoyed reading books in the British Library Crime Classics series, of which this particular work is one.
I don’t think that any modern writer could recreate the pace, prejudices and innocence of the 1930s like those authors who actually lived then. John Bude’s debut crime novel lacks some of the expected elements of the genre, even for the time, most notable being giving the reader the opportunity to work it out ahead of the police. But even there I can see Bude’s reasoning – we are seeing the case and clues through the eyes of the characters themselves which, in this case, does not include the guilty party.
Set in the Cornish fishing village of Boscawen, the story follows the investigation into the mysterious death of local magistrate Julius Tregarthan. Tregarthen may not have been a popular man, but he was respected and his death comes as a shock to all concerned. But it is the manner of his death that leaves local police detective INspector Bigswell ore than a little baffled.
He his aided – though he does not always see it that by – by local crime enthusiast and would-be amateur sleuth, the Reverand Dodd.
As suspicion move from one person to the next, our two detectives begin to uncover secrets, about not only Trgarthan himself, but also about those around him.
Although it lacks the pace and depth of a modern crime novel, The Cornish Coast Murder and in interesting and very enjoyable read. It is certainly a gem and typical of the period. Nostalgic certainly, but not in a bad way.