From the Felony & Mayhem website:
The Barnabas publishing dynasty is no stranger to mystery; after all, the founder’s nephew is legendary for having disappeared in broad daylight. Yet the discovery of one of the Barnabas cousins, dead for some days inside a locked basement, throws the entire clan in disarray. As police suspicions settle on a member of the family, the Barnabas cousins have no choice but to ask Albert Campion to step in and salvage their reputation.After Christie, Margery Allingham is my favorite of the queens of Golden Age mystery writers. (In fact, I might even say that Christie and Allingham are equal in my estimation. It is hard to draw a comparison since their work is very different and Christie wrote so many more books.) The point is, in my recent rereading of Allingham's mysteries, I find myself enchanted with her writing.
Margery Allingham's plots are sometimes fantastical; there are weird, eccentric characters, who seem to be in the book for no reason. In this book, there were moments when the plot seemed to slow to a standstill, and I was wanting something to happen... or at least something I understood. But in the end all is explained, the weird people and occurrences make sense.
There is a romance, and usually I am allergic to romances in a book. But in this case, it is not an additional subplot, it is a major part of the plot. I also like the way that the romance is portrayed, telling us a lot about the time, that the two lovers cannot just go off and do what they want, but are constrained by the attitudes of the time.
I don't want to imply that I loved this book without reservation. There is a trial and the book does spend a lot of time at the trial. It was interesting, and important points were made, but I did find that part of the book tedious.
Overall, this book is very enjoyable and illustrates all that I love about Allingham. She has a beautiful way of telling a story and creating interesting characters. Albert Campion is a wonderful character, of course, but there is also Albert's manservant, Magersfontein Lugg, a former burglar who has done prison time and has criminal contacts. In this book, Ritchie, one of the cousins who is relegated to a small role in the company, really shines.
See the interesting insights in Moira's post at Clothes in Books.
Publisher: Bantam, 1984. Orig. pub. 1936.
Length: 241 pages
Series: Albert Campion
Setting: UK, mostly London
Source: I purchased my copy.