Sunday, 31 July 2016

Death on the Riviera [books]

All the other John Bude books I've read to date - all reprinted as part of the British Library Crime Classics series - were written in the 1930s. (If you want to read those reviews, I've read The Cornish Coast Murder and The Lake District Murder, and The Sussex Downs Murder.) This one was originally published in 1952, so is rather later than the others, and shows a definite shift in style. Whereas the 1930s stories were very domestic, all about murders in remote rural locations, this one sees the action transported to the French Riviera, a bit of sunshine during the post-war years when rationing was still in effect. The Riviera is beautifully described; you can almost feel the sunshine seen in films such as To Catch A Thief and it all feels almost impossibly chic.


The cast is a little more glamorous than in the previous novels too. Rather than an orphan living with a miserly uncle, people connected to the hotel and garage trade, or farmers in rural Sussex, this time the action centres on the Riviera villa of a wealthy British woman. Handsome ne'er-do-wells, beautiful girls, stylish cars and boats all feature.

Despite the title, there's only the one death on the Riviera and it occurs fairly late in the novel. Inspector Meredith (investigator in Lake District and Sussex Downs) is on the Riviera helping local police to investigate a counterfeiting ring believed to involve a notorious British forger, assisted by Sergeant Strang. Slowly but surely, all the loose ends tie into one knot. In common with Bude's other novels, this one has a well-thought out and plausible plot, and excellent detail about the investigation.  There's a sense of reality about Bude's novels. While the earlier books mentioned echoes of the First World War, there are traces of the Second in this one; Bude's characters and the events in their lives aren't divorced from history.

I've said before, the Inspector Meredith books would make excellent material for a television series, and this novel does nothing to alter my opinion. Just enough characters, attractive settings, and a plot to keep viewers thinking - here's hoping a production company picks up the rights.

14 comments :

  1. Is the book set in the 40's or 30's?
    How fun to make a TV serial out of Inspector Meredith's books, what great costumes would come out of that!

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    1. It's set in the early 50s - character recall their lives during the Second World War. Bude tended to set his stories in the time he wrote them. So lots of scope for good costumes over 20 or 30 years.

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  2. After reading your reviews, I will definitely have to check John Bude out! xxx

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    1. I'm increasingly baffled as to how he came to be forgotten. I bought a Freeman Wills Croft novel at the same time - he's another crime writer who was immensely popular in his day but has been mostly forgotten.

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  3. I'm on the hunt for John Bude after your previous reviews. The glamorous setting makes this one even more appealing. x

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    1. I doubt you'll find any originals - though if you do, they're worth getting and selling on as they go for £££ - but the reprints will probably start turning up in chazzas over time.

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  4. I second that idea big time - we need more vintage themed TV shows in general (sure there are some, but no where near enough, IMO), mystery series very much included.

    Big hugs & happy start of August wishes,
    ♥ Jessica

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    1. Yes, we could definitely do with some more, especially more 20s-70s dramas.

      The BBC does keep surprising me; I wasn't expecting Full Steam Ahead (Ruth, Alex and Peter from Victorian Farm looking at the growth of the railways and how it impacted on British society) and was lucky to catch the first episode, and last night an excellent history series on the 1980s started. However, neither of those are dramas. We need more drama!

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  5. I say, Mim,
    Someone should give the "heads up" to the TV producers, and this just might be on the program some time in the future. I, for one, would love to see it. You can never have enough of old-time mystery series. :)

    Marija

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    1. Maybe I should write to a production company. You never know, someone somewhere might just think it's a good enough idea to run with.

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  6. I like the sound of these novels, particularly given the period. what a shame you don't have any contacts in the right area who you could prod your elbow at. I would just love to see these novels brought to life so I could ogle at all the buildings and motors and outfits! Xxx

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    1. I could just start a campaign of random letter writing. What have I got to lose? At worst, they'll just think it's a boring viewer letter and bin it.

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  7. One to add to the list, thanks Mim! x

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