John Bude Double Bill

Many thanks got to the kind people at NetGalley and Poisoned Pen Press for allowing me to read review copies of these books in exchange for honest reviews.

I do like a nice murder in occasionally (obviously I mean in books, not in reality!), especially the golden age books. One of the best is John Bude, so given the chance to read a couple of his novels, I couldn't hold back. As always, with these British Library Crime Classics, I've chosen to review two at once.

The Lake District Murder

Well, what is this book about? Hmm, actually the title is pretty clear! When one of the partners of a petrol station is found dead in his car, with a hose attached to his exhaust, the obvious thought are that he committed suicide. However, when Inspector Meredith, the hero of this tale, learns more about the dead man, he becomes suspicious that there is more to this death than meets the eye. The inquest brings a verdict of murder, and now it is up to Meredith to solve this tricky case.

Connected to the case is another, more complicated problem which seems to go much further back. It made the story more complicated than was perhaps necessary, but also added a bit of extra mystery and background into the lives of many of the characters Meredith has his eye on. I liked Meredith's way of thinking. I especially like that Bude wasn't afraid to make his protagonist make mistakes, especially with his deductive reasoning.

This isn't the best book I've read by Bude, but it does have a lot going for it. It's also the first book featuring Meredith, who later became his most famous character, his Sherlock or Poirot if you want to compare, so I'd recommend reading this book to at least get to know the writing style and the characters.

Star rating 4/5

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Cheltenham Square Murder

The third in the Superintendent Meredith series, we move out of the countryside and into a city square where the politics of people's lives are magnified. Meredith is visiting a writer friend of his and becomes involved in a murder investigation when one of the residents is killed by an arrow to the back of the head. The trouble is, half of the residents are members of an archery club and most seem to have strong alibis for the time of the murder. Many people have the motive or the opportunity but few have both. It's up to Meredith and the local inspector Long to crack the case before Meredith has to return to work in Sussex (where he moved to in the second book in the series).

I must confess, this book was much more difficult to crack than the first, and was more mature in it's writing. I think Bude has developed Meredith to the point where he is now fully formed in the readers mind as a hard working, quick thinking individual with an acceptance that he can't always be right. Throughout this investigation he flips and twists from one view to another, as many of his readers would have done in trying to work out the culprit before the hero. I certainly didn't expect it much, and in fact my strongest suspect was barely mentioned in the book, which I thought to be a little odd.

I cannot find much to fault in this book. It was better than the first, mostly because of character development and intricacy of the plot. It's not a very complicated story, unlike The Lake District Murder and has certainly hooked me into the series. I will definitely read more of these books in the future!

Star rating: 5/5

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Both of these books are available now

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