Posts Tagged ‘Margery Allingham’

Black Plumes

Margery Allingham is an author whose books I would love to enjoy but somehow they don’t quite do it for me.  I can appreciate she was a good writer and she creates some marvellous characters but somehow I just can’t get to grips with her books and this one is no exception.

‘Black Plumes’ is a standalone novel which centres round the Ivory family and their prestigious art gallery. A spate of malicious incidents results in damage to a valuable painting but this is only the tip of the iceberg of what is going on within the family and murder is the result.

The Ivory family – still ruled by matriarch Gabrielle Ivory – has many secrets and it seems as though all of them are going to make an appearance before the murder is solved.  I must admit to not liking the detective assigned to the case and this probably put me off the rest of the book.  He has very annoying speech patterns and basically something of an attitude problem.

I found Philippa and Frances – the youngest members of the Ivory family a little hysterical at times as well.  ‘Dolly’ Godolphin who finally returns as if from the dead is another character I could not take to. He is an explorer and seems to think that his ego will overcome all obstacles.

I’m sure Allingham’s many fans will love this book but it wasn’t one I particularly enjoyed and I don’t think I would have persevered with it if I hadn’t been listening to the audio book as I found it did send me to sleep!

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Capital Crimes: London Mysteries (British Library Crime Classics)

It is interesting reading stories from some of the less well known names from the Golden Age of British crime fiction in this fascinating collection of short stories compiled and edited by Martin Edwards who also writes an introduction to the book and brief details of the author at the beginning of each story.  Margery Allingham and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle are well known in the field but you may not have realised for example that E M Delafield (‘Diary of a Provincial Lady’) also wrote crime fiction.

I found all the stories interesting and entertaining and they show how styles in crime fiction writing have changed over the years.  Subject matter however remains constant.  I was particularly chilled by H C Bailey’s story ‘The Little House’ which is very twenty first century in it’s subject matter of child abuse.  I found it poignant and it brought tears to my eyes.  Other stories which stuck in my mind after finishing the book was Hugh Walpole’s ‘The Silver Mask’ which is a masterpiece of psychological suspense and Anthony Berkeley’s ‘The Avenging Chance’ which has a nice twist to it.

What struck me about all the stories was how their authors managed to convey the horrors of the crimes they depict without resorting to graphic descriptions of blood stained corpses. Some authors writing today could usefully study this collection to see how it is done. If you like your crime without graphic violence then this may be a book you will enjoy.

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Margery Allingham's Mr Campion's Fox: a Brand-New Albert Campion Mystery Written by Mike Ripley (Albert Campion Mysteries)

Whether or not you have read Margery Allingham’s books featuring Albert Campion this continuation of the series is a good read in its own right.  Albert himself is now ‘officially’ retired but of course, being Albert, he cannot resist getting involved when the Danish Ambassador’s daughter disappears – especially as he had already been asked to keep an eye on her boyfriend – Frank Tate.  Subcontracting the surveillance to his son, Rupert, Albert takes something of a back seat merely making sure that Rupert comes to no harm.

The Ambassador’s daughter disappears from a small village in Suffolk and her boyfriend’s murdered body is discovered on the outskirts of the village.  Rupert and his wife, Perdita, go to stay with the Sandyman family where the missing girl was working as an au pair, because Rupert was at school with Torquil Sandyman.  Naturally Albert Campion wants him to find out what he can.  It soon becomes clear that everything is not as it seems when people from the security services become involved in the case.

The plot is complex; the characters are interesting with plenty of eccentric populating the village and the conclusion is well written.  I particularly liked the characters of Rupert and Perdita and Lugg in his respectable new incarnation.  This is an entertaining and enjoyable crime novel.  I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley for review purposes.

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Deadlier Than The Male: An Investigation into Feminine Crime Writing

Published in 1981 and reissued as an e-book in 2015 with an additional preface, this remains a fascinating examination of why women have excelled at writing crime fiction and why those books are still in print more than half a century after they were first published. The author concentrates on five authors – Agatha Christie, Dorothy L Sayers, Margery Allingham, Ngaio Marsh and Josephine Tey.  The first part of the book looks at the Golden Age of crime fiction and addresses the question of why much of the work written in that era by men has not survived as well as the work by these five authors.

The author suggests that the work has survived partly because it does not depict graphic violence but concentrates on the investigation of the crime. Christie did not concern herself with the psychology of the detective or the criminal and to some modern readers her work seems lightweight.  Sayers started off with two dimensional series characters but gradually fleshed out Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane into three dimensional people.  Marsh again is more like Christie in that she concentrates on the crime and the investigation.  Allingham creates a mystery in the characters and background of Albert Campion who operates all the time under a pseudonym and whose parents and early life are never revealed.  Tey, much less prolific than the other four, did not always deal with murder in her books.

The second part of the book provides brief biographical sketches of the five authors though as the preface to this 2015 edition says some of that information has since been proved incorrect as more is known about the authors’ lives than was known at the time the book was originally published.  There are short bibliographies of books mentioned in the text and consulted by the author in her research for the book which would be a good starting point for anyone wanting to read the work of the these five authors.

If you enjoy reading books about books then you will enjoy this one.

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Margery Allingham's Mr Campion's Farewell: the Return of Albert Campion Completed by Mike Ripley

Albert Campion is staying in the Suffolk village of Lindsay Carfax investigating some strange goings on and some suspicious deaths in the past. His niece, Eliza-Jane, an artist, lives there and she has just been lucky to escape with minor injuries after falling over a trip rope which has been placed near the top of a flight of steps.



The village seems strange with a secret passage linking several buildings which everyone knows about. The Carders – a mysterious society – appear to run the place and have an obsession with the number nine.


Campion himself is soon in danger and he finds he has to draw on old contacts to try and find out what is going on. Can he unravel the mystery before anyone, including himself, is killed? I enjoyed this interesting sequel to Margery Allingham’s novels featuring Albert Campion and I feel the author has captured the spirit of the character in this interesting story.


I thought the book was well written with some interesting background, not just in the village itself but in the other locations. I didn’t know many of the facts mentioned about the significance of the number nine. If you enjoy Margery Allingham’s Campion stories then you may enjoy this one too.


I received a free copy of this book for review purposes.


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The Tiger In The Smoke

Albert Campion is asked to get involved with a strange case in the middle of a very bad London fog.  A young relative of his, Meg a widow, is about to remarry but she keeps receiving photographs through the post of her late husband in situations where the photographs can only have been taken recently.  Is it a crude blackmail attempt or is it more sinister than that?


Featuring the inimitable Charlie Luke, some definitely strange criminals and a marvellous clergyman this is an entertaining mystery story with some nail biting moments when it looks as though no one is going to get out of the mess alive.  Many of the interactions between the characters have much more depth than can usually be expected from crime novels.


Margery Allingham was writing when English detective fiction was in its heyday – the Golden Age of crime fiction – and the story has stood the test of time.  It portrays an era when principles were important in everyday life and people tried to live up to certain standards.  If you like your crime fiction in the classic mould then try Margery Allingham’s Campion stories.

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The Beckoning Lady (Campion Mystery)

Albert Campion is spending time in Suffolk with his wife Amanda and small son Rupert along with Scotland Yard Detective Charlie Luke who is convalescing from an injury acquired in the course of duty.  Near neighbours – Minnie and Tonker – are holding a huge and sprawling party to which everyone is invited.  But the day before the party a body is discovered and it seems many people may have had a reason to wish the victim out of the way.


This is a fascinating and amusing story of life in the nineteen-fifties set in idyllic countryside with a nice range of eccentric and mysterious characters.  I found it an entertaining and enjoyable read which kept me guessing right up until almost the last page.  The plot is complex and the background interesting.  It was good to see more of Lady Amanda as well and to see how the relationship between her and Campion is developing.


If you enjoy crime novels set in in a gentler age which involve the reader in solving complex puzzles then try Margery Allingham.  The Campion novels can be read in any order.



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