The Cornish Coast Murder by John Bude (1935)

Every Monday The Reverend Dodd, Vicar of St. Michael’s-on-the-Cliff, and his old friend, Doctor Pendrill partake of their solemn ritual of sherry, dinner, cigars, coffee, and murder. On that night each week they indulge their habit of opening and dividing up the “spoils” of a selection of the latest mystery novels to be found in the lending library at Greystoke.

For years the Doctor and the Vicar had indulged this vicarious though perhaps perfectly common lust for crime stories. It was one of the minor jokes of the parish. They made no attempts to hide their common admiration for those authors who, with spider-like tenacity, weave a web and expect the poor harassed reader to disentangle the pattern and follow the single thread back to it’s original source.”

But on this night the ceremony is interrupted when Pendrill receives a call to attend Julian Tregarthan, found dead in his home, a bullet hole in his forehead.

Inspector Bigswell takes up the case, and his suspicions soon fall on Tregarthan’s niece Ruth. In the hours before his murder they had argued with over her friendship with young author Ronald Hardy. And when Hardy mysteriously disappears Bigswell sees it as an indicator of guilt and potential conspiracy. The Reverend Dodd reads the evidence differently, and using his deductive and intuitive reasoning sets out to prove Ruth’s innocence.

In the run-up to December, I’ve been re-reading some old friends, and the Cornish Coast Murder is one of my favorites. It is one of those delightful little gems that I can go back to again and again. It’s a light read, but very entertaining. 

The plot is very straightforward, and with Inspector Bigswell we get the classic police procedural, which makes up the majority of the story. He follows the clues, but can never get them to agree with the theories he formulates, until the Reverend Dodd steps in. Dodd becomes the amateur detective, using his intuition and some very good scientific detection to uncover the murderer.

The solution is a bit problematic as that the reader is not privy to essential information until the murderer is revealed. But I can live with that because Bude provides us with quite a few puzzles to to work out, a beautiful setting on the Cornish coast, very charming characters, and a narrative that flows smoothly.

An immensely entertaining mystery that I can gladly recommend to anyone. I will definitely be re-reading again and again.

My Judgement – 4.25/5

Prior Rulings – John @ Pretty Sinister Books, José @ A Crime is Afoot, The Puzzle Doctor @ In Search of the Classic Murder Mystery

Murder Mystery Bingo – Clues and Clichés: Footprints, Red herrings: Missing Money

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