Very happy to reacquaint myself with Inspector Meredith again although I had to wait until a good half way through the book to do so! Bude’s crime novels always make me think faintly of Enid Blyton for grown ups. It’s almost as if this is what the Famous Five and the Secret Seven might be doing if we had followed them, Harry Potter style, into adulthood.
I think it is important to remain mindful of the fact that these stories were originally written and published in the 1940/50’s. From an historical perspective one can marvel at the challenges that policing at that time demanded. Little in the way of forensics and certainly no digital tools. It’s all painstaking headwork and deduction. Makes for fascinating reading though!
However Bude’s books never seem to be just about the crimes. In this recent reissue from the British Library Crime Classics series the title alone should give a hint of what is to come! The first half of the book is a tongue in cheek indictment of what might be called New Age living although I don’t think the term had been coined at the time of Bude’s writing. It’s affectionately farcical with no real unkindness intended I don’t think.
The characters are caricatures, exaggerations of personality types, people we’ve all come across in our lives at some point, (well maybe NOT the criminals and murderers!), who have their parts to play in the unfolding tragicomedy. And there are a lot of them! Many are stereotypical and functional, the gardener who spots the shadowy figure from his window. But the key players leap out of the page at you from their myriad walks of life and insist you engage with them.
Bude maintains a meticulous approach to plotting that almost takes your breath away! The attention to detail is impeccable. The ability of Meredith to arrive at the final denouement is almost a work of art!
Does the book have something to say about religious cults? Perhaps not intentionally but I think it does have something to say about the people who might be recruited.
Ultimately it isn’t a book to be taken seriously in most respects. It is book to be enjoyed. It’s an entertaining read that revels in its genre and should bring a smile to your face.