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The Lake District Murder: John C Adams Reviews

Book name: The Lake District Murder

Author: John Bude

Publisher: British Library Crime Classics

Format: Print, ebook, audiobook

Genre: Crime fiction

Publication Date: 2014

Star Rating: 4/5

The Lake District Murder has been re-issued by the British Library in their 'Crime Classics' series, along with many other forgotten gems of the Golden Age of murder mystery.

John Bude wrote thirty crime novels, The Lake District Murder and The Cornish Coast Murder being among the best known.

The story opens when Luke Perryman, a farmer, calls at his local petrol station and discovers that one of the owners is dead inside a car.

The police determine that Jack Clayton has died of asphyxiation due to a Macintosh being placed over his head and a tube leading to the car’s exhaust then being pushed up inside it.

The immediate assumption is that Clayton has committed suicide, though Inspector Meredith becomes suspicious when he sees the tea laid out in the adjoining cottage. Would someone boil a kettle just before killing themselves? Meredith asks.

When the inspector finds out that Clayton was engaged and imminently to marry and emigrate to Canada with his young bride, his feelings of unease deepen. Clayton had plenty to live for and no apparent reason to take his own life.

An autopsy reveals that Clayton was also drugged with Trional. From then on, this is a murder investigation.

Inspector Meredith investigates Clayton’s finances and is very surprised to discover that the victim had savings of several thousand pounds. The garage was remote and heavily dependent on tourist trade in the summer, so it wasn’t particularly profitable.

Inspector Meredith then turns to investigating who might have had a reason to murder Clayton.

The partnership agreement specifies (quite astonishingly from a legal perspective) that if one partner died the other would acquire ownership of their half of the business rather than the asset being inherited by their next of kin.

This provides a clear incentive for Mark Higgins, Clayton’s partner, to murder him, especially with the imminent emigration to Canada as this would have required the garage to be sold.

However, Higgins has an unshakeable alibi.

Inspector Meredith recalls a similar case locally a few years ago, where one of the partners in a garage business was killed and their partner inherited the whole business.

This makes him even more suspicious about what is going on in local garages and in the petrol supply company they all have in common.

The focus during The Lake District Murder is on working people, local businesses and the isolated and often difficult circumstances of their lives.

The beautiful, touristy side of the area is relegated to the background, with locals and their difficulties taking centre stage. I liked that very much about the book, since many famous murder mysteries often involve rich and glamorous people.

The style of writing was slightly different to many other crime novelists in that, other than a brief scene at the beginning when Luke Perryman discovered the body, Inspector Meredith’s investigation was the central focus of the story.

There was no development of the surrounding characters such as Clayton’s fiancée and little attention to the personal. The focus was on the mechanics and technicalities of the investigation and seeing justice done for the victim.

The background and the investigation were fascinating, especially as the use of petrol delivery lorries to facilitate systematic crime isn’t typically the focus of murder mysteries.

The story was compelling and I cared very much about discovering the murderer, even though we never got to see the victim alive.

The Lake District Murder was very well written, and I would highly recommend it.

Thank you for reading my review.

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John C Adams Reviews The Lake District Murder

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