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Margery Allingham

Murder Mystery; Crime Fiction; Classic English Detective Fiction

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Margery Allingham; also wrote as Maxwell March
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Titles to Look Out For:
[in order of first year of publication. Each entry includes later editions]
1928. The White Cottage Mystery
1929. The Crime At Black Dudley
1930. Mystery Mile
1931. Police At the Funeral
1931. Look to the Lady
1933. Sweet Danger
1936/37. The Case of the Late Pig
1937. Dancers In Mourning
1938. The Fashion In Shrouds
1941. Traitor's Purse

1952. Tiger in the Smoke

1954. No Love Lost: Two Stories of Suspense. The Patient at Peacocks Hall and Safer Than Love
1955. The Beckoning Lady
1958. Hide My Eyes

Maxwell March
[on separate page]
The Shadow in the House
The Other Man's Danger
1935, April. Rogues' Holiday (in stock)


About the Author:
Margery Allingham, born 1904, was encouraged to write by her father, H. J. Allingham, who was an author in his own right. His influence led to Margery contributing to her aunt's cinematic magazine called 'The Picture Show' at the young age of eight. She wrote her first novel when she was sixteen after vainly trying to get into print for nine years whilst at boarding school (Perse School in Cambridge). After Perse School, she returned to London to attend the Regent Street Polytechnic.

Her first detective story was 'The White Cottage Mystery', which was serialised in The Daily Express and published in 1928, but it was not till 1929 that she really made her name in fiction writing with the first of her Albert Campion stories: namely 'The Crime At Black Dudley'.
This book, along with 'Mystery Mile' and ' Look to the Lady' were written when she had down time from her film work. Her characters Mr Campion, Lady Amanda Fitton, the outspoken Mr. Lugg, and Divisional Detective Chief Inspector Charlie Luke are known and loved in countless households.

During the war, she ventured briefly into writing in the area of social history, but has remained faithful to the characters she created. She got married to Philip Youngman Carter and lived on the edge of the Essex Marshes for many years. She died in 1966.

About the Books in Penguin:
1417: The Beckoning Lady
276: The Case of the Late Pig
736: Coroner's Pidgin
770: The Crime at Black Dudley
667: Dancers in Mourning
379: Death of a Ghost
771: The Fashion in Shrouds
459: Flowers for the Judge
1476: Hide My Eyes
773: Look to the Lady
762: Mr. Campion and Others
864: More Work for the Undertaker
761: Mystery Mile
1416: No Love Lost
219: Police at the Funeral
769: Sweet Danger
1374: Take Two at Bedtime
1216: The Tiger in the Smoke
772: Traitor's Purse

On Amazon:

Allingham, Margery. 'The White Cottage Mystery' published in the 1990s by Penguin, 139pp, ISBN 0140087850. Condition: Good++ clean & tidy copy, well looked-after with a touch of handling wear to the exterior - e.g. the odd tiny crease and rubbing to the cover edges. Internal pages are clean & tidy, but with a little tanning to them (browning effect from ageing). Price: £13.85, not including p&p, which is Amazon's standard charge (currently £2.75 for UK buyers, more for overseas customers
9th printing, Penguin, pbk
In stock, click to buy for £13.85, not including p&p

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  • The White Cottage Mystery [top]
    First published in 1928 in Great Britain in hardback
    This edition first published in 1975 by Chatto & Windus
    Published in 1978 in Great Britain by Penguin Books in paperback, ISBN 014004616X
    Penguin edition reprinted 9 times
    9th printing: 139pp, ISBN 0140087850 . Priced originally at £5.99; Australia $10.95. Cover illustration by Andrew Davidson
    Does not feature Campion

Storyline/synopsis: Seven suspects all have an excellent motive for killing Eric Crowther, the mysterious recluse, who was an expert in making an enemy of everyone who had ever known him. The seven suspects all feared him and all wanted him dead - in fact, Eric Crowther left a loaded shotgun in the White Cottage to taunt his victims that they did not have the guts to shoot him. But one person did have the courage to pull the trigger; and someone had the nerve to move the corpse and remove something from a pocket. In the quest to identify that one person, Detective Inspector Challoner and his son Jerry search half way across Europe, in the process of which they unearth a secret and powerful crime society, against which their powers are mute. Continuing to investigate, they examine each of the suspects' pasts and motives before a surprising and unexpected conclusion is reached. Margery Allingham's first detective story was originally published as a newspaper serial

Characters:
Detective Inspector W. T. Challoner
Jerry Challoner
O. H. Deadwood - in charge of the investigation back in England while the Challoners are on the Continent chasing leads
Mr. Eric Crowther of The "Dene", the villain and victim
Clarry Gale, a.k.a William Lacy, valet to the deceased Eric Crowther at The "Dene" and ex-prisoner known to DI Challoner
Mr Cellini
Mrs. Elsie Fisher, the Cook (at the "Dene")
Roger William Christensen, the disabled owner of The White Cottage
Eva Grace Christensen, wife to Roger, who found the murdered man
Norah Phyliss Bayliss, sister of Eva Grace, and love interest for Jerry Challoner
Joan Alice Christensen, five year-old daughter to Grace Christensen
Estah Phillips, nurse to Joan Alice
Kathreen Goody, parlourmaid
Doris James, cook
Doctor Evelyn Cave, medical examiner for Scotland Yard
Monsieur René Le Gris -Parisian Intelligence Department
Monsieur Maurice Barthés, private secretary to M. Le Gris
Latte Cellini formerly supreme expert setter of precious stones

Verdict: 6.5/10.
Quite a good, gentle and surprising murder mystery - very English in nature with restrained, polite detectives going about their business in a measured and calm way. The story does not lack anything for the slower pace, and there's a secondary storyline in the developing love affair between Jerry and Norah, which is evident from the very start of the book when Jerry offers Norah a lift in his car.
The characters are likeable and understandable and the secret to the parentage of Grace's daughter Joan must have been a pretty shocking secret to the readership of the 1920s. The murdered man is quite easily depicted as evil and his death is not condoned, even if he was apparently quite inhumanly nasty. The detectives comment on a couple of occasions that the suspects don't seem to realise that their predicament could land them with their neck in a noose, which is a telling reminder of the use of capital punishment in England at the time this story was written.
There aren't any real clues as to the guilty party until the very end of the story, so the mystery remains pretty much intact until Margery Allingham decides to reveal the truth.
Summary: All in all, very good and well worth reading - it very much shows the promise and skill of the up and coming writer - of that there is no doubt. The reader should be mindful also that Margery Allingham's sister has quite clearly done a very good job in editing out repetitive text that had dogged the story since its publication in serial form in newspapers

The White Cottage Mystery on Kindle

Allingham, Margery. 'The Crime At Black Dudley', published in 1967 by Penguin in paperback, 208pp. Condition: vintage, worn copy, wholly intact & readable with mild tanning to internal pages & some wear to spine edges on the cover. Price: £3.25, not including p&p (which is Amazon's standard charge (currently £2.75 for UK buyers, more for overseas customers)
1967, Penguin, pbk

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  • The Crime At Black Dudley [top]
    First published in 1929
    First published in 1950 by Penguin Books
    Reprinted 1953, 1960 , 1961, 1963, 1965 and 1967 , 208pp, in paperback, no ISBN. Cover illustration by Michael Trevithick. 1967 edition dedicated to 'THE GANG'. Original UK retail price: 3/6; Australia $0.65; New Zealand $0.50; South Africa R0.50; Canada $0.85

Storyline: Overnight a light-hearted weekend freezes into a deadly game of hide-and-seek... with nine young people somewhat relucantly participating in the Petrie family's Ritual of the Dagger, ending up trapped in their remote Suffolk mansion house called 'Black Dudley', with a corpse to account for, and Albert Campion at grips with a master criminal... or criminals? Or is Albert Campion working for the criminal side in the story? None of the other guests knows who he is, so when the murder occurs, Campion is a natural suspect...

Campion's inoffensively idiotic voice (as Abbershaw puts it) and his flippant, jovial, and foolish manner lend him some protection from suspicion. Although a suspect, people can't quite believe he'd be involved with the murder; and his quick, intelligent, problem-solving brain is quite obviously on-side with them and working to get them all out of the house safely.

The criminal element in the house is preventing the guests from leaving Black Dudley until they get something back that belongs to them. Question is, what is it exactly that they want? - none of the guests publicly seems to know, and the guest that does know more starts to realise that he may have made a serious mistake messing with their property. The seriousness of the situation dawns on him as he gradually becomes aware that the criminals are hardened, ruthless individuals.

Characters:
Albert Campion (guest, detective & at various points, suspect!)
Dr George Abbershaw (guest)
Wyatt Petrie, new owner of Black Dudley mansion house
Margaret (Meggie) Oliphant
Colonel Gordon Coombe - host of the weekend
Jesse Gideon, friend of Gordon Coombe
Benjamin Dawlish -looks a bit like Beethoven with a sallow face. Also known as Herr von Faber
Dr White Whitby, the Colonel's private attendant
Michael Prenderby (guest, doctor by profession)
Jeanne, Michael's fiancée (guest)
Anne Edgware, a stage-cum-society person
Martin Watt
Chris Kennedy, a Cambridge rugger blue
Mrs Browning and Lizzie Tidy
Mrs Daisy May Meade, a part-time servant of Black Dudley
The Monewdon Hunt
Guffy Randall
Mr. Haywhistle

Chapters:
1. Candle Light
2. The Ritual of the Dagger
3. In the Garage
4. Murder
5. The Mask
6. Mr Campion Brings The House Down
7. Five o' clock in the Morning
8. Open Warfare
9. Chris Kennedy Scores A Try Only
10. The Impetuous Mr Abbershaw
11. One Explanation
12. 'Furthermore...' said Mr. Campion
13. Abbershaw Sees Red
14. Abbershaw Gets His Interview
15. Doctor Abbershaw's Deductions
16. The Militant Mrs Meade
17. In the Evening
18. Mr Kennedy's Council
19. Mr. Campion's Conjuring Trick
20. The Round-Up
21. The Point of View of Benjamin Dawlish
22. The Darkest Hour
23. An Error in Taste
24. The Last of Black Dudley
25. Mr. Watt Explains
26. 'Cherchez la Femme'
27. A Journey By Night
28. Should A Doctor Tell?
29. The Last Chapter

Verdict: 7/10. Good characterisation, good story. I particularly liked the fact that in a story this old, the criminals were prepared to pick off guests and the good guys with a rifle and burn them to death if necessary- something you'd expect to see in modern crime novels, not ones from the 1920s.

Campion is an interesting detective - he seems to work for the police sometimes but not all the time and in this story, he was initially working for what seems to have been a rival criminal gang to the ones Colonel Gordon Coombe usually worked with. This was a dangerous job and to all intents and purposes, it went badly wrong, but he survived using his wits and instinct. Particularly good was a bit later in the story where Campion picks a gang member's pocket and takes his gun, which comes in particularly useful in the conflict between the good and bad guys.

The female roles in the story were few and far between and weak - dependent on the men for support and direction. Meggie Oliphant was the chief female role in the book, and formed a romantic attachment and couple with Abbershaw, her emotional rock and fiancé in the story. This romantic side of the story isn't a great addition to the main storyline, but would probably have been more in tune with crime fiction when it was written.

Overall a great story -makes you want to follow Campion on another adventure!

Other Campion Books:

The Crime at Black Dudley on Kindle

Allingham, Margery. 'Campion in Mystery Mile', published by Penguin Books in Great Britain, 8th printing, 222pp, ISBN 0140122400. Condition: good, but worn with usage - has some rubbing to cover edges and mild tanning to internal pages (browning effect with ageing).
8th printing, 1989, Penguin, pbk

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  • Mystery Mile [top]
    First published in 1930 in Great Britain in hardback by William Heinemann
    First published in 1950 in Great Britain in Penguin Books (in the Green & Cream Penguin Crime design) in paperback
    Published in the revised edition in 1968. Reprinted at least 8 times
    8th printing, published 1989: 222pp, ISBN 0140122400
    . Original retail price when originally sold: UK - £3.50; NZ - $13.95 (incl. GST). The 8th printing is a tie-in with the BBC television series Campion starring Peter Davison as Campion. The cover photograph was taken by David Edwards. The series was made in association with Consolidated Productions and WGBH/Boston. Also starred Brian Glover, Robert Robinson, Brian Greene and Geoffrey Bayldon; screenplay by John Hawkesworth; Producer Jonathan Alwyn; Director: Ken Hannam

Storyline: Campion accepts a bet on the England-bound ship Elephantine that the handsome old man he's looking at across the deck will not be murdered within a fortnight, but little does he realise what trouble the old man is bringing with him.

The elderly gentleman is an American from New York known as Judge Crowdy Lobbett and he's in a whole lot of danger from the Simister gang. He's been fighting them all his life and he's now in the position of having some leverage over them, having discovered a clue as to Simister's real identity. The Simister gang are aware he knows something and are trying to find out exactly what it is - that's quite apart from simply trying to kill him. They've already killed his butler, secretary, chauffeur and a man walking with him down the street.

On board ship, a magician takes to the stage and Campion comes into his element, preventing yet another murder attempt successfully taking place involving the magician's disappearing cabinet; and it's this simple, but intelligent act that brings him to the attention of the Lobbetts and it takes only a further recommendation from Chief Inspector Deadwood of Scotland Yard to put him in charge of the Lobbett's safety and future in England. The arrangements for Campion to protect them are all sealed with a visit by Judge Lobbett's son, Marlowe, to Campion's headquarters above the Bottle Street police station in Piccadilly.

Campion decides to isolate the Lobbetts on the Suffolk Coast in a spit of land where there is only one access road in and out of the place. The nearest village on the spit is Mystery Mile and it's surrounded by impassable mud flats and saltings and possesses only a half-dozen cottages, post-office, rectory and Manor House. So the area is controllable, any strangers would stand out and the risk to the Lobbetts reduced. Campion knows the family in the Manor House - Giles and Biddy - who agree to decamp to the Dower House so the Lobbetts (the judge, Isobel and Marlowe) can stay.

Meanwhile the villagers of Mystery Mile keep an eye out for strangers and Campion, the Lobbetts, Giles, Biddy and the rector St. Swithin settle down to the new arrangements to take on Simister and his gang. Little do they realise that Simister already knows where they are and moves are afoot to finish what they started...

Characters:
[in order of importance/relationship within the story]
Albert (Rudolph) Campion
Mr. Magersfontein Lugg - one time burglar, now a confidant, friend and manservant all rolled into one in the service of Campion
Judge Crowdy Lobbett
Marlowe Lobbett - son of the judge
Isobel Lobbett - daughter of the judge
Giles Paget - squire of the Manor of Mystery Mile alongside his sister Biddy
Biddy Paget - squire alongside Giles
Detective Inspector Stanislaus Oates of Scotland Yard
Thomas T. Knapp, aquaintance of Campion and Lugg with "connections" in some of the right and wrong places...very good at tapping telephones
Mrs. Knapp, mother of aforementioned Thomas T.
The Simister Gang
Ali Fergusson Barber - Turkish gentleman first encountered on the Elephantine - art dealer
George Willsmore - one of the villagers - the church warden
Henry Willsmore - George's brother, called "'anry'"
Mr. Anthony Datchett - palmist
The Reverend Swithin Cush, rector of Mystery Mile
Alice Broom - housekeeper to St. Swithin
Mrs Whybrow - housekeeper to the Manor and sister to Cuddy
Cuddy - resident at the Dower House for many years and sister to Mrs Whybrow
Mr. Kettle - the "foreigner" in the village (from Suffolk, not local) - postmaster
Alaric Watts - vicar of Kepesake in Suffolk and longstanding friend of Swithin Cush
Henry Topliss - coroner
Dr. Wheeler - called to the village upon a murder
Peck - the Heronhoe policeman - called upon with Dr. Wheeler upon a murder
Satsuma the Japanese magician
Guffy Randall - mentioned by Giles
Addlepate the dog (the Paget's dog, likes Albert)
Haig - Campion's mouse

Chapters
1. Among Those Present
2. The Simister Legend
3. Mystery Mile
4. The Lord of the Manor
5. The Seven Whistlers
6. The Man in Dress Clothes
7. By the Light of the Hurricane
8. The Envelope
9. 'In Event of Trouble...'
10. The Insanity of Swithin Cush
11. The Maze
12. The Dead End
13. The Blue Suitcase
14. Campion to Move
15. The Exuberance of Mr. Kettle
16. The Wheels Go Round
17. 'Gent on a Bike'
18. The Unspeakable Thos
19. The Tradesmen's Entrance
20. The Profession
21. Mr. Campion's Nerve
22. The Rough-House
23. And How!
24. 'Once more into the breach, dear friends'
25. The Bait
26. One End of the String
27. Late Night Finale
28. Moral

Verdict: 8/10: better than 'The Crime at Black Dudley', but linked to that story via the chief crook, Simister, who had actually employed Campion (indirectly) on a task in that story.
This book is enjoyable from front to back - from the ship voyage with the Judge Lobbett, Campion, a magician and the potential murderer on board to Campion's chat with Stanislaus towards the end of the book.

Note in this story also that Campion has a love interest - Biddy, who unfortunately goes off with someone else Campion has introduced to her... Campion is a bit of an all-conquering hero in this book and it doesn't do his character any harm. Some sections of the story are excellent, for example Campion's secret entrance to his flat (a service lift) and the ending is pretty unexpected and well-written

 

Other Campion Mysteries:

Margery Allingham, Penguin Crime
Allingham, Margery. 'Police At the Funeral', published in 2007 in Great Britain by Vintage Books (Random House), 238pp, ISBN 9780099507345. Sorry, sold out, but click image to access prebuilt search for this title on Amazon UK
2007, Vintage, pbk
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  • Police at the Funeral [top]
    First published in 1931 in Great Britain by William Heinemann
    Published in 2007 in Great Britain by Vintage Books (Random House) in paperback, 238pp, ISBN 9780099507345. Cover illustration by Keith Marten. Original UK retail price of the 2007 edition: UK - £6.99; Canada - $19.95

Storyline: Amateur detective Albert Campion is summoned by his old friend Marcus Featherstone to Cambridge to help Marcus's fiancée's great-aunt, Caroline Faraday, solve a murder in their midst - the death of her nephew, Andrew Seeley, whose body was pulled from the river Granta. Campion takes residence at the family home, Socrates Close, where his friend Marcus has prepared him a room.

He must untangle a web of family resentments and hostilities towards one another and find out what the truth is behind Andrew's murder. His disappearance for a week after attending church one Sunday is unexplained; and the discovery of his body in a secluded stream has many suspicious circumstances surrounding it.

The deaths don't just stop with Andrew - Julia is also found dead one morning poisoned by her morning cup of tea; and Uncle William is attacked and suffers a deep cut on the hand. Is there a rampant murderer on the loose? And why do mysterious symbols keep appearing on the house windows? Why has bad-penny outcast Cousin George Makepeace Faraday suddenly turned up in the area after all this time and at such a sensitive juncture? Is he involved in the deaths? Did he kill and attack the family?

Campion must unravel a chillingly complicated plot to get to the true and startling fact behind the sudden killing spree within the Faraday family

Characters:
[in order of importance/relationship within the story]
Albert (Rudolph) Campion
Chief-Detective Inspector Stanislaus Oates
Mr. Lugg - Campion's live-in house-servant
Marcus Featherstone, lawyer and old friend of Campion
Joyce Blount, fiancée of Marcus
Great-aunt Caroline Faraday (née Seeley, great-aunt in relation to Joyce Blount) - 84 yrs old
Great-uncle Doctor John Faraday of Ignatius (deceased)
William Robert Faraday, Uncle William, Caroline's son - 60 yrs old
Aunt Julia, Caroline's daughter and William's sister
Aunt Kitty (Berry), Caroline's daughter and the younger sister of Aunt Julia and Uncle William
Andrew Seeley, son of Caroline Faraday's younger brother
George Makepeace Faraday, son of one of the younger brothers of the late Doctor Faraday
Miss Ann Held - best friend of Joyce
Alice Nuddington, the housemaid of Socrates Close
Old Bee (Beveridge - a joke name), vagrant
Mr. Featherstone senior
Mr. Cheeto, an Indian student, who discovered Mr. Seeley's body
Dr. Henry Lavrock, doctor in attendance at the murder of Julia
Detective-Sergeant Bowditch
Uncle Robert (Berry), Aunt Kitty's husband, deceased

Chapters/Contents:
1. 'Here Lies a Benefactor'
2. The Luck of Uncle Andrew
3. 'Something Rather Terrifying'
4. 'The Four-Flusher'
5. Aunt Kitty's Secret Vice
6. The Grand Manner
7. The Conjuror
8. The Observations of Mr. Cheeto
9. Dirty Linen
10. Uncle William's Guilty Conscience
11. And So To Bed
12. Committee Stage
13. Man Friday
14. The Cat in the Bag
15. The Outside Job
16. Black Sunday
17. Open Verdict
18. Report of the Deputy Coroner
19. Under the Black Wing
20. The Devil in the House
21. The Owner of the Green Hat
22. In the Morning
23. A Legacy
24. Audience
25. The Token

Verdict: 8/10:
Super book and a well-crafted Margery Allingham, although there are some bits that don't come together well (or make sense), such as where Albert Campion meets his old friend Stanislaus at the very start of the book at an out of the way, little known rendezvous point purely by accident. This felt very contrived -this introduction to the story could have been done a lot more concisely and in a much more interesting way.
Overall, it's a great story, and the reason why I like it is because it's quite a tense and in places claustrophobic rendition of a family imploding based on years of tension, dislike and plain hostility towards one another. We get a picture of the results of that "poison" all coming out in the wash and it makes for an exciting read. I like the fact that Uncle William starts off being a bit of a pariah, but Allingham brings us all to a bit more of an understanding with the character and he becomes a lot more of a real person by the end of the book with real vulnerabilities, so much so that even if you don't like him particularly, you can forgive him some of his character traits.

I found I had started to suspect what was going on towards the end of the book, but the nice thing was that it was still not clear how the murderer had done it, so it was still very worthwhile reading to the end to find out. In fact, I was waiting for some more deaths to occur since the culprit seemed to have planned quite far ahead and with some ingenuity! But then Margery Allingham didn't really write stories about mass-murderers, so it was probably best she stopped there!
Give this book a go - I'm sure you'll like it, and remember - be very careful to be nice to the rest of your family, particularly if they live with you...

Police at the Funeral on Kindle

Campion on DVD:

Allingham, Margery. 'Look to the Lady', published in 1956 in Great Britain in paperback. No. 773 in the Penguin Crime Series. Condition: wholly intact & readable, but quite old and dusty with a rip to the cover for about 3.5cm up the spine edge at the bottom of the book. Internal pages are tanned. Sorry, out of stock but click image to access prebuilt search for this title on Amazon UK
1960, Penguin, pbk
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  • Look to the Lady [top]
    First published in 1931 in Great Britain
    First published in 1950 in Great Britain in Penguin Books (Penguin Crime)
    Reprinted in 1953 in Great Britain in Penguin Books
    Reprinted in 1956 in Great Britain in Penguin Books (Penguin Crime, #773), in paperback, 279, no ISBN
    Reprinted in 1960 in Great Britain in Penguin Books (in the Penguin Crime Green & Cream banded design)
    Published in 2006 in the United States by Felony & Mayhem (NY), in paperback, 274 pages, ISBN 9781933397573

Storyline: The Gyrth Family had guarded the chalice (the Gyrth Chalice) which they held for the British Crown for hundreds of years. It was held by them for the crown, but the chalice despite its antiquity and beauty and the fact that no-one who stole it could ever dispose of it, was now threatened along with the lives and happiness of those who kept it. The chalice is irreplaceable and no ordinary thief could hope to acquire it and dispose of it; however it's no ordinary thief behind this plot. The criminals after the chalice are determined and they've specialised in stealing precious gems and treasures to order before; and that's the problem - they're under order to steal it for a private collection. Collectors don't operate under the same rules as the ordinary thief...not these collectors anyway - these six could buy almost anything they want; trouble is they now want things they can't have and the Gyrth Chalice is one of them.

There's going to be a small problem getting the collectors to stop pursuing the Chalice and that problem is that they won't ever stop. Not, that is, unless the agent in charge of securing it is killed. Then, by the rules of the club, they will consider the matter at an end. Trouble is Campion doesn't know who the crooks' agent is...

In offering to protect the Gyrth Chalice, Campion is endangering his life and protecting the Gyrth family from retribution by the Crown; for if the Chalice is lost, the Gyrth family forfeits all its possessions. There's also a critical date coming up for the Gyrth family. The young male successor in the Gyrth family, Val Gyrth, has his 25th birthday coming up very shortly on the 2nd July and it marks his initiation into the secret of the Gyrth Chalice, which includes his being shown a secret room in the East Wing of the Tower by his father.

Unfortunately Val has had a disagreement with his father and is vagranting in London in protest; but finding Val and getting him back to his home village of Sanctuary, Suffolk, is all in a day's work for Campion. The stakes are high, Campion's taken to carrying a gun; and the gang of criminals try to kidnap Val. Lady Diana Pethwick (Val's Aunt) is then found dead in the Pharisees' Clearing within 8 hours of Val's prodigal return to the family estate and the chalice goes missing. It's easy to guard against the possible, but when it's the impossible, then that's not so easy and that's where Albert Campion comes in and why this story is told...

Verdict: 8/10: An excellent and gripping storyline - not the best M. Allingham has written, but pretty close and still outstanding in quality and oomph. Look out for the hints about who Campion might be and it's apparent that he comes from a wealthy and powerful background (and is readily called upon by the establishment to deal with apparent threats, as with this threat to steal the Gyrth Chalice). Val notices that Campion resembles someone he knows when Campion has successfully lured him to his office, but we don't get to hear who that someone might be. Interesting that Campion is his own man in this story - he tells of being left a lifetime's worth of savings from his uncle, the Bishop of Devizes.

Campion refers to two characters from Mystery Mile on page 120 - wishes that Marlowe Lobbett had picked on Penny instead of Biddy (Campion and Marlowe were love-rivals for Biddy). Nice to see M. Allingham providing continuity from and connection with previous stories.

A nice thing about the 1956 Penguin edition is that when it gets to the part of the story concerning Mrs Dick Shannon's stables, there's a plan of Heronhoe Heath (p.214) showing where the gipsy encampment is in relation to her property; and those two in relation to the village of Sanctuary. Helps the reader place it all in context.

Characters:
[in order of importance/relationship within the story]
Albert (Rudolph) Campion, a.k.a Mr Christopher Twelvetrees, a.k.a "Orlando"
Mr. Magersfontein Lugg - Campion's live-in house-servant
Percival St. John Wykes Gyrth, a.k.a. "Val Gyrth", son of Colonel Sir Percival
Colonel Sir Percival Christian St. John Gyrth, Val's father and head of the Gyrth family
Mrs. Daisy Dick Shannon, has a racing stable on Heronhoe Heath
Professor Gardner Cairey
Penelope "Penny" Gyrth, Val's sister, and "Maid of the Cup"
Beth Cairey, daughter of Professor Cairey
Mrs. Bullock "Bully", landlady of the Three Drummers public house
Roger Branch, a.k.a. "The Prince of Parkhurst", the Colonel's old butler
Jacob Benwell, head of the Benwell gypsy tribe and old friend of Campion's
Mrs Sarah Benwell, Jacob's mother, Benwell gypsy tribe leader and old friend of Campion's
Joey, son of Sarah Benwell - tames the horse Bitter Aloes enough for Campion to ride her to the tower (Bitter Aloes has behavioural issues)
Percy Peck - has a cottage on the edge of the Cairey's willow plantation. Helps with the case of the ghost appearing in Pharisees' clearing
Mr. Peck senior
Neb, Peck's old dog
Inspector Stanislaus Oates
Mr. Israel Melchizadek, expert at copying jewellery
Ernie Walker, crook and informant - tips Campion off as to who the handler is for the collectors
Fingers Hawkins, an old associate of Matthew Sanderson
Natty Johnson, crook
Matthew Sanderson, crook; masquerades as Mr. Putnam with Mrs Dick Shannon
"Moggie", crook - a cat burglar, referred to by Campion as a Japanese half-caste
Mrs Munsey, the local witch
Sammy Munsey, her son, the village idiot
Doctor Cobden, a large, benign old gentleman
Baker, a policeman in London
Major King - unwelcome guest brought to the Gyrth family's Tower to see the chalice
Mr. Horace Putnam - unwelcome guest brought to the Gyrth family's Tower to see the Gyrth chalice, Mr. Putnam is actually Matthew Sanderson, a crook known to Campion
Lady Diana Pethwick, Val's Aunt Diana, lives in the Cup House on the estate, a widow since Lionel died
A gaggle of artistic friends who relied on Lady Diana for their support, including Arthur Earle, jeweller's copyist, a former employee of Campion's. They were drawing pictures of the Chalice...
Pembroke the parson in Sanctuary

Chapters:
1. 'Reward for Finder?'
2. Little Pink Cakes
3. The Fairy Tale
4. Brush with the County
5. Penny: For Your Thoughts
6. The Storm Breaks
7. Death in the House
8. The Professional Touch
9. the Indelicate Creature
10. Two Angry Ladies
11. Mr Campion Subscribes
12. Holding the Baby
13. 'I. Melchizadek Fecit'
14. Fifty-Seven Varieties
15. Pharisees' Clearing
16. Phenomenon
17. The Stack Net
18. Survival
19. 'What Should A Do?'
20. Trunk Call
21. The Yellow Caravan
22. The Three-Card Trick
23. 'Madame, Will You Talk?'
24. Bitter Aloes
25. The Window
26. Mr Campion's Employer
27. There were Giants in those Days

Other Campion Mysteries:

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Allingham, Margery. 'Campion in Sweet Danger' published in 1990 by Penguin as a tie-in with the BBC TV Series, in paperback, 251pp, ISBN 0140122435. Condition: good, but worn - has slight creasing to the cover and light tanning to internal pages. Price: £2.25, not including p&p, which is Amazon's standard charge (currently £2.75 for UK buyers, more for overseas customers)
1990, Penguin, 19th printing, pbk
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  • Sweet Danger [top]
    First published in 1933 in Great Britain by William Heinemann in hardback
    First published in 1950 in Penguin Books; at least 20 print runs followed this initial printing
    19th printing published on 4th January, 1990 in Great Britain in paperback, 251pp, ISBN 0140122435. Original UK retail price when published: UK-£3.50, AUST.-$11.99, N.Z.-$13.95
    Published as a TV series tie-in. Front cover shows Peter Davison as Albert Campion and Lysette Anthony as Amanda Fitton from the BBC TV series 'Campion', which also starred Brian Glover, Iain Cuthbertson, Richard Pearson and David Haig; screenplay by Jill Hyem; producer: Jonathan Alwyn and director: Robert Tronson. Cover photograph taken by David Edwards

Storyline/synopsis: Campion's got some documents to find before villain and crime boss Brett Savanake gets hold of them and holds the British government and international affairs to ransom! It's a mission he's highly qualified for, at least that's what his employers think. But, does the village of Pontisbright hold the secret to their whereabouts and why are dead bodies turning up on the heath wrapped up in sheets with coins on their eyes?
And who has taken the Pontisbright drum? Campion finds himself solving many conflicts and challenges on many levels with the able help of Miss Amanda Fitton of Pontisbright

How it all starts: The story opens on the French Riviera with Guffy Randall approaching the Hotel Beauregard, Mentone, in his car and witnessing a hotel guest escape with bag and revolver through a ground floor window. The departee had a small, pink, ratlike face attached to a small body dressed in a brown suit. His eyes looked scared. This incident was a coincidence for Guffy and embroiled him in a much larger international affair, far from the reaches of his original reason for being in that location at that point, which was due to escorting an aged aunt to an Italian spa and heading home down the coast.

Guffy stops at the hotel to warn the proprietor M. Étienne Fleury about the just-witnessed events outside the hotel. The hotel manager is pleased to see Guffy - knowing that Guffy is familiar and at ease with upper ranks of society; he lays before him a mystery currently occupying his mental powers - that of the residence of a Mr. Brown, a Mr. Robinson and a Mr. Jones, with a Mr. Smith waiting upon Robinson and Jones. The hotel proprietor is curious and he believes all three are nobility and wants Guffy's opinion. There is another problem - Mr. Smith, a more rough spoken character, stands accused by a neighbouring guest of ransacking his room. Needless to say, this neighbour turns out to have been the escaping crook Guffy witnessed.

When the hotel manager invites Guffy to peer through a secret window onto the lounge where the "noblesse" were seated, he recognises Mr Brown as Jonathan Eager-Wright, a famous mountaineer. Another friend Dicky Farquaharson turns out to be another of the "nobles" and finally Campion is revealed as the third. All three are on a mission and Guffy conveniently was meant to be the fourth.

Their mission essentially revolves around this: there's a very unimporant Kingdom called 'Averna' that is not well known and measures about 800 square acres in size which, through quirks of history, ended up being claimed by the English crown at the time of Richard I. King Richard wasn't impressed with the kingdom and awarded it to a mad family called Huntingforest as a snub and it's here that the tie to Pontisbright comes in - the Huntingforests are the ancestors of the Earls of Pontisbright. In 1400, the 5th Earl of Pontisbright had a crown made for Averna, and had deeds of ownership drawn up and signed and ratified by Henry IV.

Averna, until now unimportant, gets hit by a huge earthquake, which opens it up as a natural harbour. Not only that, but oil is discovered in the land behind its castle. Averna therefore becomes a place of huge international significance and the documents entitling England to claim it as her territory HAVE to be found because they know that if they don't there are powerful enemes that will. The government hires Campion as the best person to do the job, on account of the sort of stuff he likes to get involved in! So, when we meet Campion, he actually holds the position of Hereditary Paladin of Averna (head of the country), Farquaharson is the government of Averna and Eager-Wright the opposition!

It's at this point in the hotel on the French Riviera that Lugg enters in full rough-edged and humorous character, bearing a letter stolen from the neighbour that tips Campion and friends off that the next clue to the whereabouts of these deeds of ownership lies in Pontisbright.

Verdict: 8/10: It's eay to love this book and for followers of Campion and Lugg, this is where he meets Miss Amanda Fitton, who is to feature large in his life in the future. You can also sense Campion noticing and appreciating Amanda for her common sense, level-headedness and zest for the chase, danger and excitement.

I think this is the first time I've noticed a named crime boss (here Brett Savanake) come into the Campion stories and it really worked very well- it gave Campion a powerful enemy he could pit his wits against and really show his true metal. In a way this story reminded me of Rex Stout's three Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin stories featuring crime boss Arnold Zeck ('And Be A Villain', 'The Second Confession', and 'Even in the Best Families), but Margery Allingham wrote this in 1933, 15 years before Stout ever penned the trio of Zeck books - very good those too by the way).

The kidnap device used on Campion was unexpected and it leaves the right amount of speculation in the reader's mind as to who is responsible for some of the events happening at the Pontisbright Mill and those happening to the Pontisbrights, and allows you the anticipation of a return of Campion at some unexpected point in the story, plus the desire to know exactly what he's been up to and involved in when he does return!

This story has something for everyone I would say - big villain, the start of a love interest for Campion, a historical mystery and riddle that holds the key to the puzzle, a car chase, a fight scene between Campion and the crime boss, a kidnapping, and a medicine man (the local "doctor") who's gone too far down the path of withcraft with only human sacrifice left for him to try...just a bit tense and creepy...look out for the black magic scene towards the end - very well written. The car chase is a bit weakly done - some more excitement could potentially have been written into this, but since the action has to stay largely with Campion, perhaps this is understandable.

Look out for the bell ringing stunt Campion pulls off - quite a clever plot device and typical of Allingham's wonderfully imaginative story-telling

Characters:
Albert Campion "Universal Uncle and Deputy Adventurer"
Mr. Guffy Randall, long time friend, assistant and comrade-in-arms of Campion
Mr. Eager-Wright, friend, assistant and comrade-in-arms with Campion
Mr. Dicky Farquharson
Magersfontein Lugg - one time burglar, now a confidant, friend and manservant all rolled into one in the service of Campion
Miss Mary Fitton, elder sister of Amanda Fitton
Miss Amanda Fitton, the Miller of Pontisbright (that is she owns the Mill and does milling)
Master Hal Fitton, brother of Mary and Amanda and heir to the missing title of ownership of Averna
Miss Harriet Huntingforest - an American lady; aunt to Mary, Hal and Amanda
Brett Savanake - villain and crime boss
Mr Parrott and "Peaky" Doyle - employees of Savanake
Doctor Edmund Galley - doctor for Pontisbright bordering on the witch doctor side of the profession
Scatty Williams - assistant miller

Chapters:
1. In Confidence
2. H. R. H. Campion
3. The Man Higher Up
4. 'Here's Mystery'
5. The Miller
6. Tongues in Twist
7. Cain's Valley
8. Unwelcome Stranger
9. Question Time
10. Big Business
11. The Grand Manner
12. Visitation
13. 'Ware Amanda
14. The Churchworkers
15. The Stricken Drum
16. Before the Storm
17. The Crown
18. Doctor Galley's Unusual Practice
19. Pourboire
20. To Meet Ashtaroth
21. Truth in the Well
22. The Millpool
23. Late Extra

 

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Allingham, Margery. 'The Case of the Late Pig', published in 2005 in Great Britain in paperback by Vintage, 144pp, ISBN 0099477742. Sorry, sold out, but click image to access prebuilt search for this title on Amazon UK
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  • The Case of the Late Pig [top]
    Written immediately after Flowers for the Judge
    Published for the first time in England between hardcovers in the Allingham omnibus: The Mysterious Mr Campion

    The author notes in the omnibus that this was an attempt to combine Campion's new found seriousness and gravity with his earlier light-hearted adventures. Therefore the author chose for Mr. Campion to tell the story himself (in the first person)
    Also published as a short story in the 1959 hardback publication (Haycraft, Howard; Beecroft, John. Eds.) Ten Great Mysteries: 2 Full-Length Novels; 3 Novelettes; 5 Short Stories
    Published in 2005 in Great Britain by Vintage in paperback, 144pp, ISBN 0099477742

Storyline: Pig Peters, erstwhile chum of Albert Campion at Botolph's Abbey School, is dead. Lugg breaks the news to Campion whilst he's in bed munching breakfast - strange thing is though, the news has not just made the obituaries, but it's also come to Campion in an anonymous letter. Campion has not seen the man for many years, so the letter is a particularly odd occurrence (although at school he did promise he'd attend his funeral on one occasion when the two came into contact with each other during one of their altercations...). Campion's not sure he wants to go, but then the funeral is located close to the village of Kepesake, where Colonel Sir Leo Pursuivant lives...and his daughter Janet is quite a strong lure for Campion... .

The funeral takes place in Tethering, and there is only a small gathering. Campion notices at one point during the proceedings, much to his surprise, that someone is clearing his throat vicously in exactly the way Pig Peters used to. Looking round, Campion can't spot the perpetrator of the cough, but he does discover Gilbert Whippet, his junior at Botolph's Abbey standing close by and it turns out that Gilbert has also been mysteriously invited to Pig's funeral. Outside the churchyard, Campion falls into conversation with a doctor from Tethering who had attended the funeral and it quickly emerges that Pig Peters had died from cardiac problems combined with pneumonia. Seems straightforward enough, but it doesn't explain the invites or coughing...

Campion returns home and forgets all about the incident till June when a hysterical Janet phones up and tells him there's been a murder and asks him to come to Kepesake at once, which he duly does, taking both himself and Lugg down in the Lagonda to Highwaters. Sir Leo has a big surprise in store for him for there on the table in the police station is the body of non-other than "Pig" Peters, now known as Oswald Harris.

The list of suspects is wide - Pig had not been making himself very popular, throwing his weight around as a land and property developer, about to change the very nature of the village of Kepesake with a dog-track, cinema dance-hall and hydro. This is quite apart from lending money to other estates and then foreclosing when the time is right to capitalise...

The case has begun and before it's done there's going to be a lot of questions to answer, for example, Who is the MOLE? Where has Pig Peter's body disappeared to?; and who is the man watching the village through a telescope up the hill in the middle of the night - a man with Pig Peter's cough? This case could end up being quite a close call for both his and Lugg's survival...

Verdict: 8/10. Actually quite a good storyline and well written - both Lugg and Campion are in peril in this one; and the appearing and disappearing body are a great touch. There's little indication of who did it till right at the end, so this story is a bit like Dancers in Mourning - the surprise of who did it is total; actually so is the method of Oswald Harris's demise (Pig Peters) - Campion doesn't reveal how the murderer did this until very late in the story.

There's also lots of humour in the story with the straight man (Campion) - funny man (Lugg) act going on; Lugg's gritty and witty common-man's outlook on life provides a complementary nature and outlook to Campion's.

As with Police at the Funeral, there is the odd bit of difficult and non-PC language, but it doesn't spoil the story, despite the discomfort because Allingham treats her characters with love and respect - she describes their quirks and natures fondly through Campion's eyes and the fact that Campion's nature is so well-developed means that you identify with his opinion and accept it as valid and a good assessment.

Characters:
Albert Campion
Magersfontein Lugg
Guffy Randell
Rowland. I. Peters (R.I.P), a.k.a. "Pig" Peters, a.k.a Oswald Harris, a.k.a. Roly-Poly Peters
Sir Leo Pursuivant
Janet Pursuivant
Poppy Bellew, owner of the Estate Halt Knights, where "Pig" Peters was killed (whilst in the guise of Oswald Harris)
Brian Kingston - owner of the nursing home at Tethering and doctor to the village
Miss Dusey
Miss Effie Rowlandson
George, Janet's butler
The Reverend Philip Smedley Bathwick - newly appointed to the parish of Kepesake and suitor for the affections of Janet
Mrs Thatcher - owner of a cottage below "The Swan"
Mr Hayhoe - uncle of Pig Peters, a visitor making a sudden and unwelcome appearance in Kepesake
Inspector Pussey
Flossie Gage - maid at Halt Knights
Constable Johnny Birkin
Mr Robert Wellington Skinn, junior partner of the solicitors firm


Other Margery Allingham books featuring Albert Campion:

Allingham, Margery. 'Dancers in Mourning' published in 2008 in Great Britain in paperback by Felony & Mayhem, 337pp, ISBN  1933397985. Sorry, out of stock, but click image to access prebuilt search for this title on Amazon
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  • Dancers In Mourning [top]
    First published in May 1937, and in Penguin Books in 1943, reprinted 1948
    Published in the Allingham Omnibus of three stories by BCA (Book Club Associates) in 1972
    Published in 2008 in Great Britain in paperback by Felony & Mayhem, 337pp, ISBN 1933397985

Storyline: In this story, we meet Uncle William again (from Police at the Funeral) and he's become a bit of a celebrity with the British public and it's all because of his memoirs. Having sat down to write them with every intention of sticking to the truth, he started to embellish parts of it and ended up with a finished product that came to the attention of a critic on a Sunday paper who described at as one of the funniest of the decade. It didn't stop there however, and we find Mr. William Faraday, and Campion, sitting in the Argosy Theatre watching the 300th performance of the stage show of his memoirs, called 'The Buffer', which is where the story starts.

Jimmy Sutane, a talented dancer and the idol of music revue, is the victim of a series of practical jokes, some of them particulary vicious. This inane persecution attains such a degree that Mr Campion is invited to investigate by Uncle William. Mr Campion visits White Falls, Sutane's country house about 20 miles from London, and on his first night there the first of a number of pointless, seemingly irresponsible murders is perpetrated, not to mention the disappearance of Sutane's sister Eve. The victim is Chloe Pye, an intriguing unscrupulous woman and star of the old-time music hall days. Her death could have been an accident or perhaps suicide, but in either case it was extremely convenient for quite a few people. In an atmosphere of bewildering and increasing tension, and a situation not assisted by Mr Campion's emotional entanglements (he's fallen in love with Linda, Sutane's wife), the story is carried through to an unexpected, exciting climax.

Verdict: 8/10. Margery Allingham really shows her expertise and experience as a crime writer with this story by completely throwing both her main character and her readers off the scent as to who the guilty party is in all of this. The problem is that you don't feel a lot of empathy for any of the characters in the story apart from Doctor Bouverie (mainly because of his just-so, earnest and serious outlook in life and his love of roses), Campion and Uncle William - oh and perhaps Linda too, but then you tend to think she got herself integrated into the Jimmy Sutane lifestyle and therefore has to bear some of the blame for her predicament. The other characters are slightly, if not quite, unlikeable and pointing the finger at them as being the murderer(s) means it wouldn't feel like much of a jolt to put them in prison, particularly Jimmy and Benny Konrad, of whom the latter is definitely one of life's oddities

Note: In the Allingham Omnibus, Margery Allingham wrote that this book was the second of three novels designed to incorporate pictures of certain phases of contemporary life weaving into them convincing murder mysteries. Flowers for the Judge had presented a colourful view of Publishing, so Dancers in Mourning was aimed at doing the same for the Musical Stage. For Mr. Campion, his love affair with Linda was more serious than any flrtations he'd previously had and so marked a milestone in his life - a point that showed he was willing to entertain finding a serious relationship. The author also points out that this was the story where Campion was wrong about the perpetrator right up to the penultimate moment...

Characters:
Albert Campion
Magersfontein Lugg - Campion's "manservant". Campion lends him to the Sutane household after Hughes the butler leaves (in response to rudeness from Jimmy Sutane)
Mr. William Faraday
Superintendent Stanislaus Oates
Chief Detective-Inspector Yeo
Jimmy Sutane, dancer
Linda Sutane, wife of Jimmy
Eve Sutane, sister of Jimmy
Sarah Sutane, daughter of Jimmy and Linda
Hughes, butler to the Sutanes
Chloe Pye
Mr. Benny Konrad (Benjamin Evelyn Konrad), Jimmy Sutane's understudy, a bit of a cycling fanatic (he's president of 'Konrad's Speedo Club' and tangled up in an explosive incident on a railway platform
Miss Slippers Bellew
Miss Finbrough
Henry - young man on the door of Jimmy Sutane's dressing room
Mr. Blest (Ex-Inspector)
Squire Mercer - writer of music
Hoover the dog - a great Dane
"Sock" Petrie
Richards, the doorkeeper of the "Argosy Theatre"
Ned Dieudonne, Sutan's accompanist
Dick Poyser
Doctor Bouverie - attendant at the scene of Chloe's death

Mrs Eva Pole, Chloe Pye's sister-in-law
Robert Pole, Mrs. Pole's son
Mrs Paul Geodrake, nearby resident at the Old House on the lower road, an exaggerated and somewhat nosey personality
Pleyell, the coroner
Renée Roper - landlady of Chloe Pye's rented accommodation in London
Peter Brome - lodger in the same house as Chloe Pye
Georg Kummer alias Kroeger, alias Koetz, explosives expert




Other Margery Allingham Books:

Allingham, Margery. 'The Fashion in Shrouds', published in 1950 by Penguin Books in paperback, 228pp, no ISBN. Sorry, sold out, but click image to access prebuilt search for this title on Amazon UK
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  • The Fashion In Shrouds [top]
    First published in 1938 in Great Britain
    Reprinted in 1950 in Great Britain by Penguin Books in paperback, 228pp, no ISBN. No. 771 in the Penguin Crime Series
    Original UK retail price: 1/6 (one shilling and sixpence)
    Contains a quote from Paul Poiret on the bibliographic details page

Setting: The Fashion House of Papendeik, for whom Albert's sister Val is employed as head designer.

Storyline: Georgia Wells was an exceedingly fortunate woman - and a very good actress in many ways. Her marriages and her affairs we always so arranged and seemingly touched by the hand of fate. They began with such flourishes and ended very conveniently. There was also never any scandal. But it did seem strange to Albert Campion that the conditions under which her menfolk were whisked from the scene appeared at times to be strangely similar. Albert had never met Georgia Wells - although he had heard about her of course, for who had not? - until she became interested in Alan Dell, head of Alandel airplane manufacturing, who had been taken with Albert's sister until he fell madly in love with Georgia.

Albert needed to meet with Georgia and this wasn't too difficult since his sister was the cutting-edge dress designer for her, giving her glamorous fashion to dazzle her fans, lovers and audience with. The meeting therefore came about quite accidentally and from that point on, Albert noticed that events seemed to arrange themselves around Georgia, like the hand of fate at work; and some of them happened with glaringly suspicious repetitition, with her always at the centre. But was she directing these events herself, or was somebody else behind them? This was no ordinary case - Albert needed to work through a maze of facts, events and personalities to arrive at his conclusion; and the personal cost was almost deadly...

Characters Mentioned [in order of appearance]:
Roland Papendeik, founder of the Papendeik Fashion House (deceased prior to this story) newly located in Park Lane in the former town house of the Perownes family (specifically Maude Perowne) transformed by Reynarde, photographed by Colin Greenleaf
Val (Mrs Valentine Ferris, Albert Campion's sister & widow of Sidney Ferris), aged 30, couturier & saviour of the Papendeik Fashion House
Albert Campion (christened Rudolph)
Alan Dell of Alandel aeroplanes
Tante Marthe (Lady Papendeik)
Rex
Georgia Wells (Lady Ramillies & widow of Richard Portland-Smith) & best-dressed actress in the world
Ferdie Paul, Theatre producer and owner of the leases of the Sovereign and Venture theatres
Gaogi Laminoff
Sir Raymond Ramiliies, husband to Georgia Wells, Governor of Ulangi, West Coast of Africa
Richard Portland-Smith - late husband of Georgia Wells
Miss Caroline Adamson (model with similar looks to Georgia, and used to model dresses to show Georgia)
Leonard Loke (used to dress Miss Adamson)
Sir Henry Portland-Smith - father of Richard and man who hires Campion to investigate his son's disappearance. Campion locates his body
Mr Lugg - Campion's male-person's gentleman - possessed of an East-end dialect
Towser from the Colonial Office - there to see Ramillies off in his Alandel plane to Ulangi from Caesar's Court flying ground
Lady Amanda Fitton Pontisbright -comes to seek Campion's help about her boss Alan Dell
Ulysse, head waiter at 'The Tulip' club, owned by Jules Parroquet
Young Hennessy
Solly Bateman, theatre owner
Ramon Starr, promising Gigolo of The Tulip
Mrs Solly Bateman
Sofya Laminoff, wife of Gaogi Laminoff
Wivenhoe - Cabinet Minister
Dr Harvey Juxton-Coltness - Raymond Ramillies' doctor
Sinclair - Georgia Well's son, christened '"Sonny"'
Bunny Barnes-Chetwynd-friend of Sinclair's from Tolleshurst Prep at Haverleigh
Grits - Georgia Well's housekeeper
Mr. Rowlandson Blake - Public Analyst at the Richmond Laboratories
Mrs Anna Fitch - lives with Ferdie Paul - mistress of his household
Superintendent Stanislaus Oates - Central Investigation Department and long-time working friend & colleague of Campion for 11 years
Chief Detective-Inspector Pullen - one of Scotland Yard's finest
Detective-Sergeant Flood
Sir Henry Wryothsley, an eminent pathologist
Sir Montague Paling, the Chief Commissioner
Detective-Inspector Wylde, Narcotics
Robin Whybrow - lorry driver witness to the dumping of a body
Matvey Kuymitchov - manager of the White Empress
Sergeant Francis Gwynne, newly out of the Hendon Police College
Inspector Pullen
Andreas Hakapopulous, one of the family owning 91 Lord Scroop Street, Soho, a restaurant
Jock Hakapopulous, brother of Andreas
Constable Flood
Louis Bartolozzi, waiter at the Hakapopulous' restaurant


Chapter: There are no chapter titles in this book

Verdict: 8/10. Really good read and showing all the marks of an experienced and skillful crime-writer, who has come on by leaps from the 'The Crime At Black Dudley'. The setting of the story in a fashion house is a good one and it works really well. There are a couple of surprising (one is shocking) references to theories of the day and the place of women in society. The text that will shock the modern reader refers to rape and it is very out of place and very unacceptable in what it implies. It's one of those instances that jars the reader, but it doesn't spoil the book.

There's a lot of humour in the book too, for example when Tante Marthe asks Campion how Amanda keeps her stockings up and he replies that it's probably with two magnets and a dry-battery. The characterization is good, particularly Campion, Val and Georgia Wells, who comes across very much as someone who could act her way out of a locked trunk whilst wearing a straightjacket

 

Other Margery Allingham Books:


The Fashion in Shrouds on Kindle
Allingham, Margery. 'Traitor's Purse' published in 2005 in Great Britain in paperback by Vintage Books, 208pp, ISBN 0099492830. Sorry, sold out, but click image to access prebuilt search for this title on Amazon UK
2005, Vintage Books, pbk
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Allingham, Margery. 'Traitor's Purse', published in 1961 in Great Britain in paperback by Penguin Books (reprint). Condition: Acceptable to good condition - wholly intact and readable but with some dusty-dirtiness to the cover and some tanning to internal pages and the cover (browning effect from ageing). Overall a decent copy. Price: £1.00, not including post and packing, which is Amazon's stnadard charge (currently £2.75 for UK buyers, more for overseas customers)
1961, Penguin, pbk
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  • Traitor's Purse [top]
    First published in 1941 in Great Britain in hardback by William Heinemann Ltd
    Published in Penguin Books in 1950, 1954, 1958, 1961
    Published in Penguin Books in 1961, 208 pp, No. 772. Original UK retail price 2/6 (2 shillings and sixpence)
    Reprinted in 2005 in Great Britain in paperback by Vintage Books, 208pp, ISBN 0099492830. Original UK retail price: £7.99. Cover illustration by Keith Marten

Storyline: Campion simply could not remember anything, not a thing - not his name, not why he had woken in hospital accused of killing a policeman, where he was, nothing: his mind was a blank, his memory gone: his brain groped for knowledge as a baby's would. Yet he was very aware that he had to do something quickly, and he became increasingly, urgently aware that that something was of immense importance. At first, when he had awoken in the hospital bed alone, untended, and in the dark, he had not been able to react at all. But then afterwards, once he had managed, by some incredible fluke, to get out of the place, to get away in a car and then to be picked up when that went wrong, people seemed to accept him. Not just accept him, but expect him to do something. What is more, they were prepared to stand for the oddest behaviour, no questions asked

Trouble is - what had he been working on and why? How long had he got to address this important something and how was he going to do that with no memory and no-one he could ask without alerting everyone to the fact that he'd got himself into a bit of bother that had ended up risking the whole mission? No, the only way forward was for Campion to start piecing it all back together again and hope that he could do it in time and with the help of the rock-solid Amanda and Lugg for support. As for the policeman's death - that was going to be a huge problem, if only he could remember what had happened...

Verdict: 8/10: For all those who do have a few Campion's under their belt before they read this one, then this book might be a bit frustrating because you keep wishing Campion would get his act together when he's wandering around at the start of the book trying to work out what he's supposed to be doing and what mystery he was actively solving. I know he was knocked out by thugs when he was getting too close for comfort, but I get the distinct feeling that M. Allingham was trying to craft the story a bit too carefully round Campion's loss of memory and tried too hard to keep it within the bounds of reason. As a result I think it has come out a bit lumpish and awkward. It does get better though - much better and is at its best when Campion gets hold of some handgrenades using them to dramatic effect.
One thing I really liked in this book is the near severing and then reaffirmation of the relationship between Campion and long-time companion Lady Amanda Fitton; for it is in this book that he's on the verge of losing Amanda forever due to taking her for granted; and in fact, he hurts her feelings at several points in the story. So this book also marks the point at which he realises how much Amanda means to him and how awful and lost he feels without that rock solid unassuming support she lends him - and I have to be honest, I came to realise myself how much the character of Amanda fills in the gaps in Campion's character - she's such a strong influence in, and part of Campion's life that the void left by her distancing herself somewhat from Campion would appear unbearable.
One more thing about this book that I found quite fascinating - it shows you vividly some of the fears of wartime Britain - the worry and fear of plots and treachery; of geniuses lending their efforts to the wrong side because their sheer intelligence and clarity of vision is essentially a form of madness (Lee Aubrey). Overall it's a great story of wartime organised thuggery and violence with the local police operating as best they can to perform normal policing whilst allowing some form of special operations (Campion and Stanislaus Oates) to proceed with all the fallout that that brings - an excellent and exciting portrait of Campion at work during times of conflict and conflicted loyalties.

Characters:
Albert Campion (christened Rudolph)
Lady Amanda Fitton Pontisbright, sister to the Earl of Pontisbright, not yet married to Albert
Mr Magersfontein Lugg - Campion's male-person's gentleman for 17 years in this story- possessed of an East-end dialect
Lee Aubrey, current principal of the Masters of the Bridge Institute
Superintendent Hutch
Mr. Pyne
Chief Constable of the C.I.D., Stanislaus Oates (spends most of the story in hospital)
Sir Henry Bull, M.P. and senior master of the Bridge Institute
Mr. John Robert Anscombe, secretary to the Masters of the Bridge Institute of General Research, part charity and part museum
Butcher, scientist at the Bridge Institute working on explosives
Miss Anscombe, sister to Mr J. R. Anscombe
Sergeant Cook - standing guard outside the residence of Sir Henry Bull
Chief Superintendent Yeo, Scotland Yard
Weaver, B. crook and brother of Weaver, T. A.
The Williams - crooks
The Lily - crook
The Glasshouse Johns - crooks
Detective-Sergeant Doran - laid out by Campion at the police station
Superintendent Rose
Mrs Ericson



Other Margery Allingham Books:
Allingham, Margery. 'Tiger in the Smoke', published in 2005 by Vintage Books, 224pp, ISBN 0099477734. Sorry, sold out, but click image to access prebuilt search for this title on Amazon UK
2005, Vintage Books, pbk
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Allingham, Margery. 'Tiger in the Smoke', published circa 1988 by Penguin Books in their traditional green and white Penguin Crime design, 224pp, ISBN 0140166173. Condition: Very good clean and tidy copy, well looked-after. Price: £1.80, not including post and packing, which is Amazon's standard charge (currently £2.75 for UK buyers, more for overseas customers)
c.1988, 21st printing, Penguin Books, pbk
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  • Tiger in the Smoke [top]
    First published in 1952 in Great Britain by Chatto & Windus in hardback with dustjacket, 8vo, 272pp, original UK retail price: 12s. 6d. net, Basis for the classic 1956 British film noir, directed by Roy Baker. Made it into the IMBA publication (2000) of the 100 favourite mysteries of the century (20th Century that is)
    21st Printing in Penguin Books published circa 1988 and included in the Ted Smart Classic Crime 5 Book Gift Set , in paperback, 224pp, ISBN 0140166173
    Published in December 2005 in Great Britain by Vintage in paperback, 224pp, ISBN 0099477734

Background to the Story: In 'The Mysterious Mr. Campion' omnibus, Margery Allingham described this story as the second part of an experiment - the first had been created in 'More Work for the Undertaker' when she'd made Campion team up with Chief Inspector Charles Luke and made real detectives out of the two of them - sort of a crime busting partnership. She had felt that the post-war world needed this change in Mr Campion. Trouble was once you up the level of sophistication and authority in your detective figures, you need them to fight an altogether more serious and somewhat nastier type of criminal.

Storyline: It's all about treasure - treasure on the French coast at Ste Odile-sur-mer, left in a house that used to belong to the now deceased Major Martin Elginbrodde; and it's this magic word and image that's driving the troubles from start to finish of this story; troubles that involve his former comrades-in-arms.

25 year old Meg Elginbrodde, Major Elginbrodde's widow is happy to be marrying her fiancé Geoffrey Levett...well, she would be if she wasn't receiving mail in the post showing her dead husband alive and well and wandering the streets of London. Campion thinks it's blackmail attached to the forthcoming marriage, but her father Canon Avril thinks it may actually be Martin, alive but with some kind of madness.

Campion, Divisional Detective Chief Inspector Charles Luke, "Charlie Luke" and Meg rendezvous at the mainline London station where "Martin" is going to appear according to a message written on his latest letter. Geoffrey waits in the taxi outside. Meg spots the miscreant and runs towards him convinced he is her husband, but he just turns and runs away...while outside an unobtrusive, innocuous street band plays its dreary thumping tune in Crumb Street. When the man is caught, he's very frightened, but it's quickly apparent that the fear is not of the police, but of someone else unknown - someone who may take reprisals against him for messing up. The case throws up mystery after mystery - for instance, who stole Martin Elginbrodde's jacket from the rectory right under his widow's nose? And just where has Geoffrey Levett got to? When he goes missing completely, it's up to Campion to put two-and-two together as to where he may have got to...

Verdict: 9/10. Wonderful story, truly, but with faults (e.g. when Geoffrey Levett is tied up in the cellar and is ignored by Jack Havoc - this just doesn't ring true for a man who is supposed to have lost control...). This story would make a super film - particularly the scene when the evil perpetrator breaks into Meg Elginbrodde's bridal house, which both her and Amanda have gone to see. The house is in darkness due to their being no connected electricity and this sets up the perfect atmosphere for terror and suspense - they can both hear the intruder searching the house with a violent intensity and at one point, he brushes past Amanda Fitton in the dark inside the house and she just doesn't realise the amount of danger she is in - he would have no scruples at all about dispensing with her. This is one of the scenes of pure energetic vitality and suspense in the book; matched only by the scene later on involving the perpetrator and Canon Avril, where the dialogue is skillfully written and the outcome of the scene is tense, unexpected, and yet one that makes sense despite the murderous nature of the criminal.
The ending of the book is unusual - particularly the scene where Meg is happily examining the discovery she has made blissfully unaware of the danger she is in and it's probably this innocence and her lack of assumptions about her companion that saves her.
An aside: For rail enthusiasts, there is a contemporary mention of the West Country Class of locomotive.

Characters:
Albert Campion (christened Rudolph)
Divisional Detective Chief Inspector Charles Luke, "Charlie Luke"
Chief Superintendent Yeo
Superintendent Burnby of the Essex C. C. (County Constabulary)
Assistant Commissioner Stanislaus Oates, Chief of Scotland Yard
Lady Amanda Fitton Pontisbright, Campion's wife, sister to the Earl of Pontisbright, director of Alandel Aircraft Ltd
Geoffrey Levett, fiancé of Meg Elginbrodde
Meg Elginbrodde - daughter of Canon Avril, fiancée of Geoffrey Levett, has self-contained apartments in the rectory
Canon Avril Hubert, owner of the rectory in St. Petersgate Square and Campion's uncle (his mother's older brother)
William Talisman - Canon Avril's verger - lives in the basement of the rectory
Mrs Mary Talisman
Emily, daughter of Mrs. Talisman's second son, now orphaned due to WWII
Samuel "Sam" Drummock, tenant of the top floor of the rectory - an elderly and distinguished sports journalist
Mr. Magersfontein Lugg, knave and friend to Campion of many years' standing
Walter Morrison, a.k.a. "Duds" - man arrested at the station and mistakenly recognised as Martin Elginbrodde
Miss "Dot" Warburton - spinster living in one of the Glebe cottages - controls the church expenditure, giving Canon Avril an allowance
Mrs. Lucy Cash
Johnny Cash, Mrs. Cash's son
Sergeant George Picot
Detective Bill Slaney
Mrs Gollie, resident of The Feathers public house
Creasey, an old man resident at 37 Grove Road behind which a murder took place
Jack Havoc, escapee from Parkhurst prison, known cold-blooded killer, a.k.a. "the gaffer"
Roly; and Tom: brothers
Bill
Tiddy Doll (a Tiddington man)
Mr. Rosenthal of Crumb Street - pawn broker


Other Margery Allingham Books:

Allingham, Margery. 'No Love Lost', published in 1963 in Great Britain by Penguin in paperback. Sorry, sold out, but click image to access prebuilt search for this item on Amazon UK
1963, Penguin, pbk

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  • No Love Lost: Two Stories of Suspense [top]
    Includes the stories: The Patient at Peacocks Hall
    First published in 1954 in Great Britain by the World's Work
    Published in 1959 in Great Britain by Penguin Books
    Reprinted in 1960 , 1962 and 1963 by Penguin Books
    1963 edition, 208pp, volume C1416 in the Penguin Crime series. Original UK retail price: 2/6 (2 shillings and sixpence). Cover design: John Sewell

Stories: In the Patient at Peacock's Hall, a young and beautiful woman doctor fights to save the life of her rival; lost poison seems damning evidence, and dramatic revelations follow each other in a neatly constructed story of suspense, involving a film-star, a mysterious Frenchman, and other material for village gossip...

Safer Than Love is set in a preparatory school at the beginning of the summer holidays. The headmaster's young wife has her own reasons for prevaricating when inquisitive neighbours in the small town enquire about her husband's whereabouts

Allingham, Margery. 'The Beckoning Lady', published in 2007 by Vintage Books, in paperback, 244pp, ISBN 9780099506089. Condition: very good with some light handling wear from usage. Price: £4.75, not including p&p, which is Amazon's standard charge (currently £2.75 for UK buyers, more for overseas customers)
2007, Vintage Books, pbk
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  • The Beckoning Lady [top]
    First published in 1955 in Great Britain by Chatto & Windus in hardback
    Reprinted in 2007 by Vintage Books (Random House), in paperback, 256pp, ISBN 0099506084
    Cover illustration by Keith Marten
    Original UK retail price: £6.99; Canada - $19.95

Storyline: As if presaging what misfortunes are to come, the book opens with a sad event for anyone following the fortunes of Campion and friends. We find ourselves reading the Times obituary of Uncle William who first appeared in Police at the Funeral as the son of Caroline Faraday, widow of the late Dr. John Faraday.

We learn in The Beckoning Lady that after William's mother died, he became quite a successful humourist and celebrated literary figure. We also learn that he moved to Pontisbright in Suffolk to stay at a house called 'The Beckoning Lady' owned by the Cassands - Minnie and Tonker - who are the centre of this murder mystery. Campion and Lady Amanda are married and have a son Rupert, and they're on holiday in Pontisbright looking after The Mill House for a Miss Huntingforest, who is vacationing in America.

So, we have all the main characters in the right place at the right time to take part in this exceptional whodunit - not forgetting the wonderful Lugg - Campion's "manservant", or more appropriate - right hand man. We also find Detective Inspector Charles Luke recuperating at the Mill after he was injured in The Caroline Street Raid and he has a part to play in the investigations into the murders, but we also see him get back to himself in the book - he starts to take charge of his life again and whilst the murders provide a catalyst for him to do this, there's also a love interest - a rather unusual choice called 'Prune', who Campion thoroughly disapproves of...

The main events of the book take place around Minnie and Tonker's preparations for a huge and usually unforgettable party. The party takes a life of its own and gathers its own momentum and whilst the first murder has the potential to derail the party and its atmosphere, some quick and clever thinking by Tonker diverts attention to the neighbouring (and somewhat of a rival) estate - the Pontisbright Park Estate, where the owner Francis Genappe is absent in South Africa.

Some interesting characters to look out for (and possibly the best ones in this story) are Old Harry - a country person who's completely at home in his environment - he's part and parcel of his surroundings - he understands them, reads them, uses them and lives his life immersed in them. He is able to guide the police somewhat as to the importance of some of the clues.

The other interesting character is the Inland Revenue Inspector - there's a whole thread of the story wound round this man and his advice and 'help' to Minnie over her finances. Some of the suggestions and demands he made, combined with his enforcement of his 'tax rules' suggest something sinister and 'conman' about him... . He plays a large part in this book - keep an eye out -it's worth trying to figure all of this out in what is a classic Margery Allingham, well written, intelligent and moreish.

Characters:
Albert Campion - on holiday (supposed to be!) in Pontisbright
Rupert Campion - his son
Detective Chief Inspector Charles Luke, recuperating in Pontisbright
Tonker Cassands, friend to Campion and inventor of the Glubalubalum, married to Minnie
Magersfontein Lugg, a London fellow, right hand man to Campion and attracted to Miss Diane
Old Harry, a country person, protector and suitor to Miss Diane - a man of the old ways
Sidney Simon Smith, alias 'the S.S.S. man', a palindromic V. I. P. -that is spiv! Manager of the Pontisbright Park Estate for Fanny Genape
Westy Straw, step-great-grandnephew to Minnie
George Meredith, friend of Westy
'Fanny Genape', a millionnaire, owner of the Pontisbright Park Estate
Superintendent Fred South - rural C.I.D.
Solly L., a bookmaker and taker of a rather unusual bet in this story...
Wally, friend to Tonker
The Police Constable at Pontisbright
The Imperial Augusts, a celebrated troupe
The Lady Amanda Fitton Pontisbright - married to Albert Campion, mother of Rupert. Amanda and Campion had a fake engagement to be married in The Fashion in Shrouds
Minnie Cassands, née Miranda Straw, celebrated woman painter, A.R.A., owners of 'The Beckoning Lady', and married to Tonker
Prunella Scroop-Dory, doggedly pursuing love interests with DCI Charles Luke
Emma Bernadine, friend to Minnie, wife to Jake, mother of 'Blue Drawers' and 'Yellow Drawers', living at the cottage at 'The Beckoning Lady'
Miss Pinkerton, secretary to Francis Genappe and on loan to Smith. We meet Miss Pinkerton and Campion just after Uncle William's funeral
Annabelle, sister to Westy
Miss Diane, alias Dinah, employed by the hour at 'The Beckoning Lady'
Mary, niece to Amanda
Tommasina, wife to Wally
Lady Glebe, mother to Prune
Blue Drawers and Yellow Drawers, Emma Bernadine's twins
The Hostess at the Inn, with guests, clowns, Augusts, Rustics, Police, etc.

Characters who do not appear:
William Faraday, alias Uncle William deceased
Leonard Terence Dennis Ohman, an Inland Revenue Inspector
Sir Leo Pursuivant, Chief Constable at Kepesake
Poppy, Sir Leo's wife
Jake Bernadine, a painter, married to Emma
Mr. Burt and Mr. Hare - alias the Bodysnatchers, dealers in scrap
The Sheikh Hassan-Ben-Sabah, owner of a notorious race track at Merdek, North Africa

 

Other Margery Allingham Books:

Allingham, Margery. 'The Mysterious Mr. Campion', published in 1972 by BCA with dustjacket, 505pp, no ISBN. Includes: The Case of The Late Pig; Dancers in Mourning, The Tiger in the Smoke; and On Christmas Day In the Morning. Sorry, sold out, but click image to access prebuilt search on Amazon UK for this title
1972, BCA, hbk
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  • The Mysterious Mr. Campion: An Allingham Omnibus [top]
    Includes the stories: The Case of The Late Pig; Dancers in Mourning, The Tiger in the Smoke; and On Christmas Day In the Morning
    First published in 1972 in Great Britain by Book Club Associates in hardback with dustjacket, 505pp, no ISBN. Jacket design by P. Youngman Carter

About this book: This Book Club Associates edition; includes the stories The Case of the Late Pig; Dancers in Mourning; and The Tiger in the Smoke. There is also an introduction by the author called 'Mystery Writer in the Box' and a short story called 'On Christmas Day in the Morning'.

The Case of the Late Pig was written immediately after 'Flowers for the Judge' and when it appeared in this compilation, it was the first time that it had appeared in hardcovers in England. The story was an attempt to combine Mr. Campion's newly found responsible mood with his earlier light-hearted adentures and to achieve this, he tells the story himself.

Dancers in Mourning is the second of three novels written to incorporate pictures of certain phases of contemporary life with convincing murder mysteries. Whereas Flowers for the Judge presented a colourful view of publishing, Dancers in Mourning aimed to do the same for the Musical Stage. The story was a milestone in Mr. Campion's Life in as much as his love affair with Linda became more serious than any of his earlier flirtations and was to have a profound effect upon the depth of his character. Also Campion's idea about how the murder took place proves to be wrong...

The Tiger in the Smoke is the second part of an experiment for M. Allingham - the aim in 'More work for the Undertaker' had been to meet the new 'no-nonsense' mood of the post-war world with a knight errant of reasonable authority, and Chief Inspector Charles Luke had teamed up with Mr. Campion in a remarkably happy relationship. It now seemed evident that real detectives needed real criminals and it was to this end that the author and the readers started along the path to identifying the Tiger

On Christmas Day in the Morning:
In a post-lunch chat on the afternoon of Christmas day between Campion and Sir Leo about the sadness of Christmas, Superintendent Pussey arrives with a mystery for the two of them to solve - a postman called Noakes has been killed on his round on Christmas morning and yet he still managed to deliver letters to a cottage after he is supposed to have been hit by a saloon. The doctor is firm on this point - Noakes might have made the delivery to the cottage, but he'd never have made it back... can Campion and Sir Leo solve this mystery?

Characters:
Mr. Albert Campion
Sir Leo Pursuivant, the Chief Constable
Superintendent Pussey
Mrs Fyson

Allingham, Margery. 'Hide My Eyes' published in 1961 in Great Britain by Penguin Books in their green and white design Penguin Crime series: #1476, 223pp, no ISBN. Condition: Fair - completely readable and intact, but a bit dusty-dirty with tanning to internal pages (browning effect from ageing) and a cup ring mark on the front cover. There are two name stickers from the previous owner in the front of the book. Price: £2.99, not including post and packing, which is Amazon's standard charge (currently £2.75 for UK buyers, more for overseas customers)
1961, Penguin Books, pbk
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  • Hide My Eyes [top]
    First published in 1958 in Great Britain by Chatto and Windus, in hardback with dustjacket
    First published in 1960 in Great Britain in Penguin Crime paperbacks
    Reprinted in 1961 in Great Britain in Penguin Crime paperbacks, 223pp. Original UK retail price: 2/6 (2 shillings and sixpence)

Storyline/synopsis: The story is billed as 'Murder near London Theatreland' on the front cover, but it all begins with a murder on a rainy night in a cul-de-sac called Goff's Place near London theatreland. A moneylender, "Lew", with a pawn shop in Deban street is killed by a debtor. There's blood all over the moneylender's office, but no body and the police can only conclude that the body's been taken away in the bus seen in the area at the time. Strange thing is there's a witness who swears there was an old couple asleep in the bus when he saw it which makes the bus an unlikely getaway vehicle...still, if Superintendent Charles Luke is right about all the bits of information he's put together on a London street map in his office, he might well be on the track of the murderer, despite the scepticism of Chief Superintendent Yeo and his friend Campion.

Luke believes there are links between this and other killing: a left-hand glove from the Church Row shooting; a gold ring decorated with ivy leaves recognised as belonging to a missing couple; and a lizard-skin lettercase from a car salesman found dead in a chalk pit on the London-Folkestone Road who was forced off by another car: all these items were found in the Garden Green area of London and they begin a trail, driven by Luke's conviction that the murderer has links with the area, that leads by way of a 'Museum of Oddities' to a very strange scrap dump in the East End, "Rolf's Dump". It's here that two storylines converge - Richard Waterfield has been following the man the police are looking for all day for a different reason - he's been trying to find out what kind of family his friend Annabelle has got mixed up with now she's come down to London - little realising that his quarry has a habit of killing people he comes across and what danger he is putting himself in...

Verdict: 9/10. This book is just so good and ranks as one of the very best Margery Allingham crime stories. It's wonderfully written - it has its own momentum and the storyline is a strong; well actually, it's three storylines in one book and they all come together at the end. It's not really even a Campion mystery as he features so little in the story (Lugg is absent too) and any references to him could almost have been done away with and no-one would be any the wiser. There are really five prominent figures in this tense thriller and they are Inspector Charles Luke, Gerry Hawker, Polly Tassie, Annabelle and Richard Waterfield.

What it is is a police procedural story - it's about how a ruthless and unfeeling cold-blooded murderer (a killer through and through) starts to slip up and lose his composure as his carefully planned and executed kill goes wrong. It's almost blackly humorous how many parts of the plan fail - the wallet left in the eating house, creating two alibis for the same half hour, meeting a friend on the way back from the "hit"; not forgetting that he was actually doomed right from the start because the companion (Richard Waterfield) he chose to groom as his alibi for the crime had been following him anyway without him realising it - the meeting in the barber's shop was not coincidental, but he doesn't know this...
The Richard Waterfield storyline is one of the great things about this book - you have this careful, calculating and ruthless killer who is proud of getting away with it time after time, putting into action meticulous plans and making sure there are sound alibis; and all the time he believes that Richard is some down-on-his-luck bloke (he notices that Richard has sold his watch) who is perfect alibi material. He entertains Richard most of the day and takes him to various favourite haunts and then leaves him to make a call...a murderous call... . All the time Richard has been compiling huge amounts of information on this guy who may variously be called Gerry Hawker or Jeremy Chad-Horder; and finally realises he's being used as an alibi. So, when Gerry doesn't return to Richard in the Tenniel Hotel, Richard starts investigating some of the information he's noticed about Gerry and this is when he makes his way to Rolf's Dump, a name he spotted on the top of one of Gerry's boxes. Little did Richard realise that he would shortly have a rendezvous with the police there...
The scene described by the author in Gerry's lockup in Rolf's dump is vivid, tense and engages all the senses of self-preservation, tension and horror. You can only breathe a sigh of relief when the police discover Richard on the scene. This book is a tribute to the sheer skill Margery Allingham possesses for writing such a classic murder-mystery thriller.

Watch out for references to Haigh, the acid-bath murderer - this horrific crime was obviously fresh in Margery Allingham's mind when she wrote this and it is mentioned a couple of times here in relation to the murders committed

Characters:
[in rough order of importance to the storyline]
Superintendent Charles Luke
Gerry Hawker a.k.a. Major Chad-Horder
Albert Campion
Polly Tassie
Miss Annabelle Tassie, niece of Polly
Richard Waterfield
Chief Superintendent Yeo
Matthew Phillipson, "Matt", senior partner of Southern, Wood and Phillipson family firm of solicitors and old friend of Polly Tassie
Detective-Sergeant Picot of Barrow Road police station - old friend and colleague of Luke'sChief Superintendent Yeo
Edna Cater - general manageress and part-owner of The Midget Club, just behind Minton Square, London
Tilly O'Dea
PC Harry Bullard - on duty in Garden Green on the day it all happens
Mrs Sybylle Dominique - owner of The Grotto Restaurant in Adelaide Street. Old friend of Polly's
Peter Dominique - Sybylle's son
Florian Dominique - grandson of Sybylle
Chief Inspector Henry Donne of Tailor Street division
Constable Samuel May - one of Charles Luke's men
Superintendent Cullingford - friend of Sybylle and customer of The Grotto
Dan Tilley Bar Tender of The Rose and Crown Public House - knew Gerry and his grandfather when their houses backed onto each other in Urquhart Road
Kinder, an inspector from the Canal Road Police Station
Percy, "Perce"- a barber
Mr. Vick - a barber
Miss Rich - neighbour of Polly's who borrows a magazine every so often
Lew, moneylender
Lettice and Reginald Fisher - couple who went missing, believed to have been murdered and dissolved by Gerry...

Other Margery Allingham crime novels:

 



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