Posted in Book Reviews

The Cornish Coast Murder- A Book I Loved, Set In A Place I Love

This week in life outside of The Book and Blanket, things were a bit complicated.  University assignment deadlines suddenly seem to be getting a lot closer much sooner than they were before Easter and the changes in work hours and responsibilities left me feeling like I was spinning down the rabbit hole by the end of pretty much every day.  This weekend has therefore been officially dedicated to recharging for everyone in The Book and Blanket household. This has mostly centred on making and eating a lot of rhubarb crumble and custard, playing a lot of computer games and reading, for me at least, the murder mystery stories that I love so much.

This week, the book I was reading is actually set in the land that I hail from originally and I really really enjoyed it.  It suited my mindset, I liked the characters, the plot had good pacing and was interesting.  For me it was pretty close to perfection.  This week, I read The Cornish Coast Murder.

the cornish coast mystery

The Cornish Coast Murder was written in the 1930’s by Ernest Elmore under the pseudonym John Bude. It tells the story of  Inspector Bigwell who has to try and solve the murder of local magistrate Julius Tregarthan and is assisted by the Reverend Dodd.

While the village that the story is set in, Boscawen is fictional, the descriptions that Bude gives of the area are pretty spot on for what many Cornish villages are like.  (In case anyone is interested however, while there might not be a village called Boscawen, there is a bronze age stone circle near St Buryan in Cornwall called Boscawen-Un.) I was transported back to the village and the surrounding area that I grew up in and having looked up what others thought of it, it seems like many felt that they got a good insight into what Cornwall is like.

There wasn’t an awful lot of time spent on discussing the character’s backgrounds in this book but I really don’t think they needed to,  Everything that you needed to know was included and Bude has managed to make the characters develop into fully 3-dimensional people within the reader’s mind without actually have to tell you the information directly.  They are shaped by their experiences within the story and by the time you get to the end, you feel like you know each of the main characters incredibly well. Bigwell and Dodd work well together and each contribute valuable insight towards solving the mystery.  I really liked the way that Dodd managed to maintain his independence instead of turning into a side-kick who is just there to act as a sounding board to the main detective.  He is a logical intelligent man who manages to solve many of the puzzles of the story through his own reasoning.  Yet he never oversteps the mark by trying to take over from the Inspector.  The Inspector as well doesn’t turn into a bumbling idiot policeman who needs to be rescued by an ‘unofficial detective’. He does do down the wrong track a few times but he is willing to admit when he is wrong and is always quick to turn it around.

The mystery itself, I thought was really well put together.  You are taken through it in a very logical order.  Each snag in a theory is fully explored and a solution is either found or an alternative theory is developed.  There is no leaping to conclusions without any evidence and it’s just so easy to follow that it feels like you are solving it yourself, even if you are just letting the story wash other you. There is only one occasion where a character is able to use knowledge that the reader doesn’t have but I found that it didn’t make a massive difference to me.  It was something that I could have assumed and to be honest, it was just nice to have my hunch confirmed.

There was one thing that I was a little bit dubious about though.  I don’t want to give anything away for people that want to read the book so if you want to be sure of avoiding any spoilers, scroll down to the conclusion.

There is an element of the story that revolves around throwing things from the sea up to the top of a cliff.  Now as far as I am aware, the book doesn’t specify how high the cliff actually is however, I would assume that it is quite high if 1. It’s in Cornwall and 2. Someone dubbed it safe enough to build a house right on the edge of it.  So my problem is – I find it slightly unlikely that someone would be able to throw the items from the book and have them land where they did.  Surely they would have to be incredibly good at throwing to get the items to clear the cliff and not just hit it and then fall into the sea?  Maybe I missed a detail or maybe it is possible and my athletic ineptitude is just showing itself! Leave me a comment with your thoughts.

Conclusion

All in all, I thought this book was really good and would recommend it to anyone.  It was a nice relaxing book to sink into but was complicated enough to keep you interested.  I’m definitely going to be adding the rest of John Bude’s books to my to read list. As always, leave me a comment with your opinions and thoughts.  🙂

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