Ernest Carpenter Elmore (1901–1957) was an English theatre producer and director who wrote more than 35 novels, 30 of which were crime fiction published under the pseudonym John Bude. The rest were released under his name. Writing as John Bude, most of the mysteries were led by Inspector William Meredith. The first two Merediths appeared in 1935 and 1936, The Lake District Murder and The Sussex Downs Murder. They have been reprinted by the British Library. Two other crime novels featured Inspector Green and two more featured Inspector Sherwood. He also wrote some stand-alone mysteries, the first of which was The Cornish Coast Murder (Skeffington, 1935).
The Reverend Dodd, Vicar of St. Michael’s-on-the-Cliff, and Dr. Dodd, of the village Boscawen in Cornwall, meet every Monday for dinner and to divvy up the books received from the lending library at Greystoke. They each take three and then exchange them midweek, shipping them back over the next weekend and submitting a new list of requests. They were reviewing this week’s delivery–an Edgar Wallace, an Agatha Christie, a J.S. Fletcher, a Farjeon, a Freeman Wills-Croft, and a Dorothy L. Sayers—when the telephone urgently summons the doctor to the home of Julius Tregarthan, who his niece reports as having been murdered.
While Tregarthan was a Parish Councillor, a church-goer, president of local clubs, a justice of the peace on the Greystoke Bench, and a generous patron of local charities, he was also subject to frequent bouts of ill temper, and he was generally disliked by those who knew him. He and his niece were known to be at odds over her relationship with a man new to the village, who moved in a few years previously and who was engaged in writing a novel. Tregarthan was thought to deal with his tenants unfairly and had been harsh with those brought up before him on charges while he was acting as JP. In addition, his housekeeper had seen him arguing with someone she did not recognize in the garden before dinner. In short, there is any number of possible suspects for Inspector Bigswell’s consideration.
The vicar is delighted to have a real-life mystery to use his deductive skills on and he involves himself as much as the inspector allows. The identification of a culprit brings him to a halt, realizing that a fictional mystery is quite different from a real-life mystery in which he knows all of the players.
Bude’s writing style is pleasant but not dramatic, especially in its evocative description of Cornwall. The book is unhurried while its momentum does not flag in its execution of the plot. I will be reading more of his work.
This review is based on the ebook version available at http://www.fadedpage.com.