The joys of furlough mean that I have lots of time to read, and to stay on track with my British Crime Classics Challenge.

On the other hand, with the libraries currently closed and furlough also meaning slightly less money for stocking my own library *sob*, I’m having to rummage through my shelves for some I haven’t yet read. Fortunately, though, I am an inveterate collector of books I don’t normally have time to read, so I probably have enough to see me through for a few months. At least until the libraries reopen, or I go back to work and can buy some more.

I even have a handful of unread crime novels from the Golden Age. Huzzah!

 

The Incredible Crime, by Lois Austen-Leigh

Prudence Pinsent, daughter of the Master of Prince’s College, Cambridge, is pulled into a mystery by Captain Studde of the coastguard when on her way to a cousin in Suffolk. Studde is investigating a drug-smuggling ring that seems to involve both Pinsent’s cousin in Suffolk, and Prince’s College. Can she work it out before the smugglers are forced to kill to protect themselves?

I was not very impressed with this novel: there was a lack of death. A bit like with operas – if no one dies, what’s the point? I think, on balance, I prefer my mysteries to be more murderous and I can’t say I took to Prudence. And as for the tacked-on after-thought of a romance – ! Just not worth the bother.

The Cornish Coast Mystery, by John Bude

Following a Monday-night ritual of opening a box of crime books, Reverend Dodd and Dr Pendrill are interrupted by a phone call. A secretive local magistrate has been found dead – shot through the head. The police are baffled. There are, naturally, several decent suspects. Reverend Dodd, ready to put his detective theories and abilities to the test, helps out.

While not the best murder-mystery I’ve ever read, this was Bude’s debut (though, since Bude is a pseudonym, not the author’s first novel: Ernest Elmore had already published “weird tales”) and perfectly readable. I thought the answer was a bit of a cheat, though, but perhaps Bude got to grips with the essential rules of crime fiction in his later books.

Next up: Coroner’s Pidgin, by Margery Allingham

Albert Campion, just returned to London for six weeks’ leave after years abroad on a secret mission, is relaxing in his bath when his servant Lugg and an unmistakably aristocratic lady appear in his flat with the corpse of a woman. Campion, with a train to catch, is unwilling to interfere…