Sunday, April 24, 2016

John Bude, Death on the Riviera

John Bude, Death on the Riviera
British Library Crime Classics
Poisoned Pen Press
ISBN 978-1-4642-0569-9
Also available as an ebook

Inspector Meredith and Sergeant Strang get sent to the Riviera to help break up a counterfeiting ring; the suspected "artist" is an Englishman with a history.  The book becomes complicated, with cigarette smuggling and with what appears to be a sub-plot involving the inhabitants of a villa owned by the wealthy Mrs. Hedderwick. 

One thing of interest is that in 1952 English tourists heading for France were apparently permitted to take only ₤5 in English currency to the Continent.  According to this source ( ), "The main object of exchange control in this country was to conserve and increase the gold and foreign currency reserves."  In the book, the allowable amount is given as ₤5, but in the source I noted above, it's given as ₤25 per year for an adult.  Even as late as 1969, we get this, from a debate in the Commons:  "I beg to move. ‘That the £50 travel limit is unworthy of Great Britain and should be abolished....' It is an obstruction to one of the dearest freedoms of the British people, namely, our ancient freedom to travel and to move amongst other peoples and in other countries where and when we want. It should never have been reimposed in 1966, 21 years after the end of the last war and seven years after it had been abolished. It is bad on every count, and should be removed forthwith."  Which suggests that the restrictions had continued until at least 1959 before being reimposed in 1966.  

But to revert to the book.  It's well-written (Bude was a popular author, who died quite young in 1957, at age 56), and mostly well-structured.  There is a sub-plot involving a painter (artist, not house), which sort of disappears without any resolution.  The death of the title, however, does not occur until at least 2/3 of the way through the book, and, somewhat to my dismay, seems to have been committed by  one of the more sympathetic characters in the book.  I suppose that's just the way it goes sometimes.

This is part of the British Library Crime Classics series, curated by Martin Edwards.  It's well worth seeking out.

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