Thursday, January 19, 2017

Mystery Mile (Albert Campion), by Margery Allingham

Albert Campion, eccentric gentleman investigator, made his first starring appearance, along with Magersfontein Lugg, his butler/valet/bodyguard, in this novel, first published in 1930. While onboard a ship, Campion saves the life of an American judge and learns from him and his adult children, that there have been several other attempts. Although at first they think he is a buffoon, the Americans ask for his help in desperation after yet another attempt on the judge's life. Intent on finding a safe refuge for his new acquaintances/clients while he brings down the would-be murderers, Campion convinces his oldest friends, Biddy and Giles, to lease the Americans their out-of-the-way Manor House located in the rural village of Mystery Mile, somewhere on the marshy coast of Suffolk, England.

Originally intended to be a comic version of Dorothy Sayer's detective, Lord Peter Whimsey, Allingham apparently grew attached to her creation and, as a result, Campion is more British eccentric than clown. Although he speaks with an English school-boy, P.G. Wodehouse-type of jargon, there is no question that Allingham created a smart character capable of great emotion. Similarly Campion's "man," Lugg, a rough and tumble cockney, Great War veteran with few manners, is no comic figure. Instead, when least expected, he shows himself to be a man with hidden depths. When the judge disappears and key villagers succumb to an unexplainable kind of evil miasma, Campion and Lugg use all of their talents to unravel a dense mystery and save the American's life.

Reading one of Margery Allingham's Campion mysteries is like escaping to a time between the wars where you have nothing more pressing to do than lounge in a well-worn comfy chair on a sunny day in a well-stocked library, with tea and biscuits. I was sorry the book ended.

(I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

* Print Length: 226 pages
* Publisher: Bloomsbury Reader; 1 edition (May 6, 2014)
* Publication Date: May 6, 2014
* Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC

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