In the coastal town of Boscawen, in Cornwall, the vicar and the town doctor have a pleasant Monday evening ritual. They meet at the vicar’s house, have dinner followed by the lighting of cigar and pipe and the opening of the weekly crate of 6 books ordered from the lending library in the neighboring town — 6 mysteries, of course. They each take three to read, and then will switch and read the other three before the week is up. They are two old bachelors and armchair detectives honing their powers of observation and insight through the works of their favorite mystery writers.
When a murder happens in their own town, and a young woman and her boyfriend are implicated, they are able to put their deductive reasoning to good use helping Inspector Bigswell solve the mystery. The vicar, especially, has a talent for problem-solving, using his intuition and a wonderful way of processing all the information he comes across:
My idea was to sit in this arm-chair for a couple of hours with a cigar–a policy of splendid inaction.
The vicar’s “splendid inaction” way of processing all the clues, coupled with the Inspector’s facts-only approach made a great combination for solving the mystery, and was fun for the reader.
I liked the way this book was written and the way you get to know each of the characters. And I liked all the characters (except for the murdered despicable uncle), and even felt sympathy for the murderer. It wasn’t a story of evil, but of very human failings and suffering. In the end, the vicar sums up his part in the mystery and the whole idea of murder:
By a lucky series of circumstances he has been guided to the solution of the mystery–but he felt no elation, no triumph, no satisfaction. Murder was all right in books and plays, but in real life it was a sorrowful, suffering business.
I look forward to reading more of Mr. Bude’s very enjoyable mysteries.