It is all very well for a detective - real or fictional - to discover, by brilliant deduction and/or careful police work, who committed a particular crime, but it is quite another matter to be able to prove the point to a jury. I suspect we can all think of real-life examples, but as this blog is devoted to fiction, let's consider one particular work of mystery fiction that revolves around a murder in England's beautiful Lake District. The book is The Lake District Murder, a 1935 mystery by John Bude, a prolific and popular author whose books have almost completely disappeared. The Lake District Murder is the subject of today's audio review on the Classic Mysteries podcast, and you can listen to the entire review by clicking here.
The Lake District Murder begins with the discovery of the body of a man in a car at a remote garage along an infrequently-traveled road in the Lake District, that magnificently scenic part of England which has long been a magnet for tourists. The dead man, one of the garage owners, was dressed in a peculiar suit that appeared as if it had been designed to funnel the car's exhaust directly to the man's head, where the fumes would kill him very quickly. Suicide? Perhaps. But Inspector Meredith, who is called on to investigate, quickly determines that he is dealing with a case of murder. As he asks more questions and digs more deeply into the mystery of the young man's death, he becomes convinced that he can identify the murderer. The problem is that there is little or no evidence which would convince a jury to convict the killer.
What we have, then, is a tightly-plotted mystery in which Inspector Meredith tries to track down the evidence he will need to prove his case. To do that, Meredith and his superiors must try to determine a motive for the murder - and also try to shake some pretty firm alibis. The Lake District Murder is part procedural, part puzzle mystery, set against the beautiful backdrop of the Lake District's scenery.
John Bude, the pen name of Ernest Elmore, is credited with thirty crime novels, all of which, according to the book's blurb, are very rare. British Library Crime Classics has now brought back a couple of Bude's books, including this one, and they are fine examples of Golden Age plotting and writing. Mystery writer Martin Edwards has supplied an introduction to this new edition which provides additional background about John Bude and his similarities to other Golden Age authhors. The publisher supplied a copy of The Lake District Murder to me for this review.
As part of my continuing commitment to the Vintage Mystery Bingo Reading Challenge under way at the My Reader's Block blog, I am submitting this to cover the Bingo square calling for one book written by an author with a pseudonym. For details about the challenge, and what I'm doing for it, please click here.