Death on the Riviera by John Bude

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Death on the Riviera by John Bude

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A welcome reissue of a book published in 1952. It's very much of its time, particularly in the way of sensibilities, but it's a good plot and a pleasure to read.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 256 Date: January 2016
Publisher: British Library
ISBN: 978-0712356374

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Counterfeit currency was circulating on the French Riviera and it was suspected that an Englishman was behind the crime, so DI Meredith was sent along with acting-Sergeant Strang to trace the whereabouts of Chalky Corbett. It wasn't entirely an unpleasant assignment - the warm of the south of France compared favourably with polluted London - and Meredith (whose French was far from fluent) got on well with the local policeman, Inspector Blampignon of Nice. It wasn't long before their interest settled on the Villa Poloma, home of an eccentric expatriate Englishwoman, Nesta Hedderwick and her band of bohemian house guests.

I have a weakness for golden age crime novels and Death on the Riviera, dating from 1952, fits the bill perfectly. Meredith is a clever but not infallible investigator: it might seem odd to describe a policeman as charming but that's the best description I can think of for both him and the book. He describes someone as a bad hat and you can feel the censure without any need for bad language. Strang is young, enthusiastic and completely besotted with one of the residents of the Villa Paloma: they're both decent men determined to do a good job. It was a relief not to encounter the current fashion for detectives who are foul-mouthed / womanisers / have problems with authority or alcoholic.

Bude has a great talent for evoking place and the Riviera jumps off the page. It's easy to see how this atmosphere and sophistication would appeal to the reader in the early nineteen fifties: I wasn't very old at the time but I can remember rationing, shortages and a sense that our belts had been tightened. There's a neat dig at the people who attempted to avoid currency controls by use of a cheque to buy foreign currency abroad - and who then found that the currency they'd bought was forged.

The plot develops well too. The death mentioned in the title doesn't occur until quite late in the story and it did seem for a moment as though Meredith and Strang would be off home before the action really got going, but this is one of John Bude's later plots and there's an obvious maturity in the handling of the story as a simple task of apprehending a forger turns into a murder investigation. I read the book whilst I was on holiday (the chilly east coast of England rather than the warm south coast of France, but no matter!) and it was the perfect holiday read. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

If this book appeals then we can also recommend the work of Margery Allingham, Michael Innes and Ngaio Marsh. If you'd like to know more about the golden age of crime you can't do better than The Golden Age of Murder by Martin Edwards. We have also enjoyed Death Makes A Prophet by John Bude.

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Buy Death on the Riviera by John Bude at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Death on the Riviera by John Bude at


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