Death on the Riviera (British Library Crime Classics)
By John Bude
Rating: 4/5 Stairs
Death on the Riviera is another in the British Library Crime Classics series, which republishes classic crime for a new, modern audience. Death on the Riviera was originally published in 1952. As with all the books I’ve read in this series, the book starts with an introduction from Martin Edwards, who gives you information on the author as well as the book you are about to read.
Above all, Bude focuses on telling a good story, and he keeps the action flowing from start to finish.
– Martin Edwards
This book is labeled as a “murder mystery,” but the murder does not actually occur until about 3/4 of the way through the book. It begins with Detective Inspector Meredith and Sergeant Strang, who have been sent from Scotland Yard to the French Riviera. They are on the trail of ‘Chalky’ Cobbett, known forger, and is suspected of running a counterfeit ring in the Riviera.
The narrative moves between the counterfeit investigation, and the happenings at the Villa Paloma, home of Nesta Hedderwick and a varied crew of house guests. The story weaves the two together nicely, giving the reader background on the residents of the Villa while following the leads that Meredith turns up.
For me, it is great fun to read a mystery written 60+ years ago. The motives behind the crime are typically the same as a modern mystery – jealousy, greed, anger, etc. But socially, the characters behave so differently than they would in 2016. And without cell phones, DNA swabs, and the like, the detectives must rely on their investigative skills and small clues instead of our modern day technology.
Mr. Bude approaches Inspector Meredith’s detective work in an unusual way. Unlike Sherlock Holmes, who gathers all evidence before constructing a theory, Inspector Meredith loves to think of what might have happened, and then set off to prove if that theory is correct or not.
It was always the case, thought Meredith – once one had discovered the solution to a problem it was hard to believe the problem had ever existed.
A special note for all my fellow armchair detectives out there – while Mr. Bude did drop hints along the way, I was not able to fully see the solution (for the counterfeiting operation or the murder) until Meredith spelled it out in the end. Mr. Bude loves to weave a complex puzzle for the reader.
Death on the Riviera may not be a traditional murder mystery in the sense that the murder occurs so late in the book, but it was a fun read. The mystery of the counterfeit ring and search for Chalky made this an entertaining page turner. An excellent outing in classic crime.
If you enjoy classic crime, last year I read The Sussex Downs Murder by John Bude which was another of Inspector Meredith’s outings.
Many thanks to NetGalley and publisher Poisoned Pen Press for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.