The Lake District Murder

The Sussex Downs Murder is the BLCC listed on my 10 Books of Summer challenge, but the sea side bookshop I was in only had this one on its shelves, so I stayed with Meredith but on his home patch of Keswick in the Lake District and in 1935 while he’s still a lowly Inspector.

The setting is lovely and having read a couple of other Meredith mysteries it was interesting to see where he came from. The small towns are filled with amiable shop keepers, burly farmers and friendly bank managers and everybody, no matter how criminal carries a dinner basket. His son Tony is an eager to help seventeen year old and his wife worries over the amount of work he does. It’s all very domestic.

But trouble arrives from the south (!). There’s a particularly grizzly suicide in a garage on a lonely stretch of road, and as the investigation gets under way one puzzle just leads to another, and was it suicide after all or could it have been murder? There seems to be a shadier side to these normally quiet coastal towns. But Meredith, on his first solo investigation, puts the whodunit on hold and even the whydunit as he sets out to prove the howdunit.

Piece by piece Meredith explores with meticulous precision the case as it unfolds, always polite and fair, snatching a hasty meal where he can and jumping on his combination (not in this case an arrangement of womens’ undergarments ,but a motor bike and side car) until from scant clues he is able to bring a case against the guilty.

The crime is ingenious and Meredith’s clue hunting at times was really exciting but when a crime is set in a garage, however exciting the plot, the clues can’t help but be about tanker capacities and at one time hose lengths, which I did find unutterably dull and Meredith is thorough!

Still, it picked up at the end and Meredith was given a very well deserved promotion – not the dizzy heights of Scotland Yard, but he’s on his way.

11 thoughts on “The Lake District Murder

  1. I’m intrigued by your tank capacity and hose length comment, it sounds as if a mechanic might have spotted the clues but the rest of us might not.
    Loved seeing the poster showing where this gorgeous cover art came from, thank you 🙂

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  2. Haha! I love your comment about the tedium that ultimately ensues when a crime takes place in a garage! As you say, tanker capacities and the specifics of hoses are not the most exciting of topics. Nevertheless, this does sound interesting from the perspective of Meredith’s development! It must have been one of the earliest in the series when Bude was learning his craft…

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    1. It’s the first Meredith mystery and Bude’s second novel – it says a lot for him (Bude and Meredith really) that I was still invested in his character in spite of the boring detail!

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  3. I have The Sussex Downs Murder on my 20 Books of Summer list too and am hoping I’ll have time to read it this month. It will be my first John Bude, so if I enjoy it I’ll be looking for some of his others – maybe not this one, as I think I would struggle with the tanker and hose parts as well!

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  4. Interesting – I’ve heard mixed things about Bude, and was a bit unsure about the only one I’ve read, Death on the Riviera – but this one sounds like it’s a winner. And I’m pretty sure I have it. And, in fact, I have a cushion based on this cover from the British library shop!

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    1. I preferred Death on the Riviera! I’ve read one other Bude Death comes a profit which was a bit of nonsense really so a mixed reaction from me so far. Bet it’s a lovely cushion!

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