Welworth Garden City in the 1940s was the place to be if you wanted somewhere to belong. Whether it be your political beliefs, your religious beliefs, or maybe you were just a vegetarian, there would be a like-minded group of people there. And hence it was an ideal place for the Church Of Osiris – or Coo – to arise.
The High Prophet Eustace K Mildmann would have his church be a haven of peace, but it seems not to be the case. In-fighting, passions, money concerns… none of these should belong to Cooism but that’s just the start. Because some secrets need to kept – even if the price of that silence is murder. Inspector Meredith soon has his hands full trying to track down a cunning killer.
“There was no juggler on a bicycle. Curious, eh?”
While it was Mystery In White by J Jefferson Farjeon that really kicked the British Library reprints into the bestseller lists, it’s John Bude who is possibly the stalwart of the range, with this being the sixth release of his, as the range approaches fifty titles. And of the four that I’ve read so far, this is the best of the bunch. In fact, it’s rather wonderful.
The first half of the book is loads of fun, as the players – the High Prophet, his deputy, the money behind the church, two star-crossed lovers, mysterious fellows lurking in the dark (one of whom wears “a teddy bear coat” – eh?) – shuffle around each other, throwing motives around left, right and centre. It’s a cross between a soap opera and a West End farce – all it needed was someone’s trousers falling down when a vicar walked in – and it certainly is the last thing one would expect from a crime writer who for such a long time was so obscure that he was even classed as being “Humdrum”. Normally, I get itchy page-turning fingers when it takes an age for the murder to happen, but it’s over half-way through this book and I found myself not minding at all. In fact, there’s a good game of guessing who the victim is going to be, as it’s by no means clear.
Then, once harm has been done, Inspector Meredith is on the scene. And while Meredith is never going to win a “Most Distinctive Detective” competition, the light tone continues, along with its vein of humour. There’s a good puzzle here concerning what actually happened with the murder and it contains the first time I’ve ever read of a SPOILER being used to kill someone. I did guess for the most part what had happened and whodunit, but I did feel a bit clever doing so.
As you can tell, I really enjoyed this one. It’s rare to find something that marries mystery and fun so well, and while you might be a little irked that some of the non-murder incidents are a little irrelevant, this is still an excellent addition to the range.
Needless to say, this is Highly Recommended.
My other John Bude reviews: