Book Review: Death on the Riviera by John Bude

Death on the RivieraDeath on the Riviera
British Library Crime Classics
John Bude
Poisoned Pen Press, March 2016
ISBN 978-1-4642-0569-9
Trade Paperback

Detective Inspector Meredith and acting sergeant Freddy Strang of the British Criminal Investigation Division are sent  to the French Riviera in search of forger Tommy  ‘Chalky’ Cobbett, a master counterfeiter who has been busy flooding the area with fraudulent thousand franc notes.

Since this is 1953, they have little to go on to track down their quarry. The French police tell them that black market notes have been offered to tourists in the area, so they hang about the bars and cafes with little success. Not a bad assignment, the two agree. A chance meeting puts them on to a man, possibly German or Dutch, who frequents a certain bar on Thursday nights, who is suspected of passing the notes.

Villa Paloma is the  residence of rich Brit and part time Riviera resident  Nesta Hedderwick and her odd collection of houseguests: niece Dilys Westmacott, dodgy artist Paul Latour, playboy Tony Shenton, Mrs. Hedderwick’s flighty companion Miss Pilligrew; Kitty, a raven haired young woman in questionable circumstances,  and later Bill Dillon, a fellow Brit who had met the detectives en route to the resort town.

While taking in the art at a local museum, Freddy Strang bumps into Dilys Westacott, unaware that she is connected to their investigation. He gives her a false name, reasoning that he’s undercover, but has some fast explaining to do when he meets her again in his official capacity.

A reprint of a 1953 edition, Death on the Riviera is a classic British golden age mystery. With the crafty detective, his naïve sidekick, and a house full of suspicious characters, this is fun for lovers of Agatha Christie. John Bude is the pen name of Ernest Elmore, a  popular writer who was a co-founder of the Crime Writers’ Association with John Creasey.

Reviewed by Susan Belsky, May 2016.