Death on the Riviera by John Bude is a multi-branched mystery that starts out as a search for a counterfeit money maker, extends to the inhabitants of a villa in Riviera, and spawns a murder mystery and some romance along the way. Detective Inspector Meredith and Sergeant Strang have been sent from England to the French Riviera to track down an expert forger. When they arrive, they find their French counterpart, Inspector Blampignon, investigating cigarette smugglers. Working together, the three find their attention focused on the Villa Paloma and the assorted guests and residents of owner, Englishwoman Nesta Hedderwick.
Bude keeps this astonishing number of cases, sometimes seeming to overlap and sometimes looking wholly separate, running smoothly. All three of the main detectives and the occasional other police investigators work with painstaking care to sort out the threads and resolve the cases. The characters vary in their depth: Meredith and Strang are the most fully developed and the rest enough to fill their roles without becoming caricatures; the most important part here is the mystery, which has enough variety to keep anyone reading. Bude plays fair with his readers: Looking backward, it is possible to track every step and clue that leads to the conclusions.
Death on the Riviera is published by Poisoned Pen Press as part of their release of the British Crime Library books, rediscovered titles from the time between the wars. It has been sixty years since this book was published, and that is sixty years too long.
The book is perfect for readers who love Agatha Christie but who have already read through her oeuvre, or for those who enjoy her work but want a slightly different take on the same kind of puzzle.