Classic Crime

John Bude

Ernest Carpenter Elmore was born in 1901 in Maidstone, Kent. He was an English theatre producer and director as well as producing many crime and fantasy novels. His crime novels were released under the pseudonym, John Bude.

Writing as John Bude, he published thirty crime novels, with Inspector William Meredith appearing in most of them. The first two, both of which were published in 1935, were ‘The Cornish Coast Murder’ and ‘The Lake District Murder’. Elmore was a founder member of the Norfolk Chapter of the Crime Writers’ Association in 1953.

Under his real name of Elmore, he wrote several novels, three of which were humourous fantasy; ‘The Steel Grubs’ (1928), ‘This Siren Song’ (1930) and his most well-known novel, ‘The Lumpton Gobbelings’ (1954).

Elmore died in Hastings, Sussex on 8 November 1957.

Review: The Cornish Coast Murder

There is a wild thunderstorm brewing one Monday evening in late March. The sky lights up with the oncoming storm from across the sea and rumbles of thunder can mask the most daring of crimes, even murder.

So begins John Bude’s debut crime novel first published in 1935. Recently the British Library has re-issued Bude’s first two mysteries; this one and ‘The Lake District Murder’. They have done a fine job bringing Bude’s old books to life with two stunning covers which perfectly epitomises the time these novels were originally released.

In ‘The Cornish Coast Murder’ a man called Julius Tregarthan, an ill-tempered magistrate is found shot dead in his study. There are three bullet holes through the French windows as though shot by someone without any training in handling a revolver. So why would someone who couldn’t handle a gun want to use that as their choice of weapon? Inspector Bigswell is soon on the case and is helped by the local vicar, the Reverend Dodd who has a penchant for crime mysteries.

From the off you can tell Bude is a crime buff. Dodd and local physician, Dr. Pendrill meet up at the Vicarage every Monday evening and look over the new mysteries delivered from the library. Bude takes pains to list some of the greats operating in those days; J.S. Fletcher, A. Farjeon, Sayers, Freeman Wills-Croft and as the vicar expostulates with delight, ‘And my old friend, my dear old friend, Mrs. Agatha Christie’! Needless to say, if you like any of the above, then this book is for you. This mystery is cut from the same cloth. As with many from the Golden era, ‘The Cornish Coast Murder’ is all about the mystery. Do not expect in-depth characterisation here. The main and only thrust of the whole book is to find the perpetrator of the ‘heinous crime’.

This is a pleasant mystery and competently written, although the way the author re-visits and refreshes the reader’s mind as to the clues that have been discovered is slightly clunky and can feel a little repetitive at times. But that was the way back then, and crime fiction has come on in leaps and bounds.

For an author who is more or less forgotten these days, according to the CWA archivist, Martin Edwards, (not many can match Martin for his knowledge of crime fiction), Bude’s books are highly collectible with price tags to match. So it is wonderful that readers like me without a huge budget can enjoy Bude’s mysteries. These paperbacks produced by the British Library are of a high quality and worth every penny. What is inside these covers definitely matches the presentation. Having been part of the Cornish coast murder I am now off to enjoy a murder mystery in the Lake District. At least this way I get to enjoy the British countryside from the comfort of my armchair!

Reviewed by: C.S.

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