Death on the Riviera by John Bude

Sun, sea and murder…

😀 😀 😀 😀

death-on-the-rivieraInspector Meredith and his young sidekick Acting-Sergeant Freddy Strang have been sent to the Riviera to help the French police hunt down a counterfeiter – a Brit who seems to be involved in laundering fake money in the little towns along the coast. While they’re there, a murder is committed amongst some of the English people living on the Riviera, so they become involved in that investigation too, especially since it seems that the two crimes may both link to the various people staying in the home of Nesta Hedderwick. This is quite handy for young Freddy, since he’s fallen in love with Nesta’s niece, Dilys…

The title of the book made me think this would be mainly a murder mystery, but in fact the bulk of the book is about the counterfeiting investigation, with the murder and subsequent investigation only happening quite late on. It’s a personal preference thing, and I’m not quite sure what it says about me(!), but I really prefer my crime fiction to be about murders. I’ve never managed to get up much interest in theft or fraud as a plotline. So, true to form, I enjoyed the murder investigation of this one, but found the counterfeiting plot rather dull.

In both sections, it’s really more of a howdunit – the villains are relatively obvious from fairly early on. In the counterfeiting plot, the question is more about how the money is being disseminated. This involves Meredith and Strang in quite a lot of driving along the coast, visiting the various small towns. Bude creates an authentic feel to the setting, with all the cafés and rich tourists, the gorgeous scenery and glorious weather, and Meredith and Strang have plenty of time to enjoy their stay while working on the case, complete with a fair amount of fine dining and wine-tippling.

The murder plot is something of an ‘impossible’ crime, though not of the locked room variety. I’m not going to reveal much about it since it would be hard without spoilers. But it’s fiendishly contrived, with a neat (if rather incredible) solution. The who is easy, the how less so, though I did guess how it was done a few microseconds before it was revealed. I felt the motive was a little shaky, to be honest, but it’s really more about the puzzle than the motivation.

Both Meredith and Freddy are likeable characters. Meredith is methodical and efficient, while Freddy works more on intuition. Freddy has shades of a Wodehouse character – I felt he would fit in well at the Drones Club (though as one of the more sensible ones – think Kipper Herring rather than Gussie Fink-Nottle), which I have to say made me wonder why he was slumming it working for the police. I’d have liked to know a little more about him, but even without much background to his character he adds a touch of lightness and occasional humour, and his romance with Dilys is nicely handled.

Overall, I enjoyed the book, despite not being enthralled by the counterfeiting strand – the writing is very good, the plotting is clever, especially of the murder, and the characters well enough drawn to be interesting. Another intriguing author resurrected by the British Library – one I’d be happy to read more from.

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Poisoned Pen Press.

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44 thoughts on “Death on the Riviera by John Bude

  1. I am the same as well. If it’s a crime thriller, I’d prefer it to deal with murder. And especially if the book title says “Death on the Riviera”, I would be quite disappointed if the murder is actually secondary to another crime.

    • Yeah, I’m not sure what that says about us, though! 😉 But I did think this was going to be mainly a murder mystery from the title so I felt a tiny bit cheated. It was still a fun read overall, though…

  2. Sounds fairly fun, but not quite enough to tempt me in. It must be every cop’s dream to get a job investigating the Riviera! Usually fraud and laundering investigations are notoriously dull (unless you really, really like ploughing through reams of mind-numbing paperwork) but I hope things were jazzed up a bit for this tale. I’m with you – murders are by far the best crimes for fiction, although I do like a good kidnapping here and there. Preferably that includes a murder as well 🙂 We must be hopelessly macabre!

    • I know – I loved the way the French police called in their English colleagues just because one of the suspects was English. Then put the two of them up in nice hotels and wined and dined them for weeks – nice work! The best work-related junket I ever got was a week on my own in a semi-built hotel on the Isle of Man in winter…

      Yeah, no, the whole money laundering thing was pretty dull in this too, I felt – and kinda silly, in truth. Oh well! But the writing was good and I liked Freddy, and the Riviera setting. But a few more corpses would certainly have livened it up… 😉

      • The Isle of Man in winter is not for the faint-hearted! I got sent to Leeds, once. It was pretty okay but certainly not the Riviera. Sometimes all that stops a good book being a great book is a few extra corpses. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself… 😉

        • Ooh, yes, Leeds! I once got soooooo lost in Leeds on my way to a meeting – I had to phone the office and get someone to come and get me. So embarrassing!! They really shouldn’t send me anywhere without a guide… (The same thing once happened in Edinburgh which was even more embarrassing!!)

          Haha! Indeed! There’s nothing like another murder to spice up the dull bits!

  3. That cover makes me wish I was at the beach with a cocktail in one hand and the book in the other…or my kindle:) I have to say with the title you would think a murder would be the central focus of the story. I usually prefer a ‘whodunit’ over a how but that’s just my preference as I like trying to figure out that type of puzzle.

    • The whole book made me feel that way – all that wining and dining sounded like just what I need to chase the winter away! Yes, the title did leave me feeling a tiny bit cheated, I admit, and I’m with you – I prefer whodunits too, usually. But it was well written and quite fun, and I’d happily try more of his stuff…

  4. I like Inspector Meredith, too, FictionFan. I can see how you think he’s a good character. And that setting! Who could possibly resist it? Funny you’d mention that about preferring a crime novel to be about a murder (or murders). I don’t think you’re alone. In fact, I ought to do a post on that at some point. I’m sure there are other crime fiction lovers who have the same preference.

    • Yes, he’s a nice level-headed sort of chap, and likeable! I liked Freddy too, though I got the impression he’s probably not a regular character? Oh, yes, do! I’ve always been like that – it’s one of the reasons I prefer Christie’s novels to her short stories, on the whole – the short stories are quite often about a jewel theft or something and I find I don’t care. Same applies to the Holmes stories – I definitely prefer the murder stories there too…

  5. This one doesn’t tempt me too much, FF. Must have something to do with my already-bloated TBR, ha! Or perhaps I’m just being picky. I mean, if a title tells me it’s a murder mystery, I’d kind of like the main plot line to be about the murder and the solving of it, rather than some extraneous crimes.

    • Ha! Don’t talk to me about bloated TBRs – I can’t believe how many books have arrived on mine the last couple of weeks! But yes, I’d have been happier with a straight murder mystery too – the title did make me feel just a little bit cheated. Haha! We’re all so bloodthirsty… 😉

  6. I think I would feel the same way as you–not as enamored with the money laundering. I hear way too much about fraud these days. It’s no longer interesting to me as a plot device.

    • Yes, I’ve always found anything to do with money laundering or fraud kinda dull – I think that’s partly why I’ve never been a fan of caper novels and films much. No, give me a good corpse, or preferably two or three of them… 😉

  7. This does sound fun. I’ve read three others by Bude in the BLCC series, but not this one. I’ll definitely keep an eye out for it in the local charity shops as they seem to turn up fairly regularly around here.

    • I don’t think I’ve read a single one of these BL classics that hasn’t been fun – they’re not all brilliant, but they’re all enjoyable. I keep picking them up whenever they appear on NetGalley – I’m sure I’ve got another one of Bude’s on my Kindle. Perfect weekend reads… 🙂

    • Haha! We’re all so bloodthirsty – and I thought it was just me! Definitely worth sticking on your list – nothing better than spending a bit of vicarious time on the Riviera except maybe spending some actual time there…

  8. A tour round the Riviera sounds just the thing for January, and I quite like crime, as opposed to murder stories. Bude’s name is very familiar, but I can’t think why – maybe I read him in my youth.

  9. Like you I prefer my crime fiction to be full of murder and added to that one with a proper motive (not a crazed killer, one on drugs or part of gang culture) so I wouldn’t want to wade through the counterfeiting either although it does sound like it has a good puzzle which is a bonus!

    • Yes, I’m the same – I don’t like violence for its own sake, there has to be a proper reason for the killings… haha! Aren’t we all strange? But this was fun even if I did feel a bit cheated by the murder not being the main thing…

    • Exactly! I hadn’t realised that was the reason, but you’ve put your finger on it! Haha! We’re all so bloodthirsty though – I really prefer two or three murders to just one… 😉

    • Haha! I thought I was a bit odd preferring murder, but it seems to be the majority view… we’re so vicious! 😉 But this was fun to read even if I did feel a bit cheated out of my quota of corpses…

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