RogerBW's Blog

Flowers for the Judge, Margery Allingham 08 September 2016

1936 classic English detective fiction; seventh of Allingham's novels of Albert Campion. The Barnabas family publishing house is used to strangeness; the founder's nephew disappeared in broad daylight while walking between his house and the main road. Now Paul Brande, one of the cousins who run the firm, is found dead inside a locked room. US vt Legacy in Blood.

There's an obvious suspect: Mike Wedgwood, youngest of the cousins, who's known to have been spending time with Paul's neglected wife Gina. What's worse, Mike went down to the strong-room where Paul's body was found, the night beforeā€¦ and said he saw nothing unusual. But the body was lying right in the doorway and Paul had been killed several days earlier; how could Mike have missed it?

This is probably the most conventionally structured of the Allingham mysteries I've read, and even then the murderer is explicitly revealed in chapter 17 of 21 (and the alert reader will have spotted what's up much earlier, though there's a certain lack of proof or motive at first). At the other end of the proceedings, after some immediate detective work about cause of death, there are long sections dealing with the inquest and the initial stages of the trial (in particular lovingly-observed scenes in the Central Criminal Court at the Old Bailey), and only at the last moment does Campion get into gear to sort things out. Where in Look to the Lady and Sweet Danger he vanished off-stage near the climax and came back with all the answers, this time we're allowed to follow him as he spends a long night collecting all the information that's needed.

Characterisation is understated but more effective than flamboyancy would have been. The minor character of Teddie Dell, in particular, is superbly drawn, as is the faintly-idiotic (or is he?) nephew Richie Barnabas. Lugg returns at last, but mostly to be made mock of for trying to get away from his larcenous past; later in the book, when he has to use old contacts, things work rather better. Campion himself is less fatuous than he's sometimes been.

The ultimate solution fails to satisfy only insofar as it is outside the law, and this is for my money the best of the Allinghams so far. Followed by Dancers in Mourning.

[Buy this at Amazon] and help support the blog.

Previous in series: Death of a Ghost | Series: Albert Campion | Next in series: Dancers in Mourning

Comments on this post are now closed. If you have particular grounds for adding a late comment, comment on a more recent post quoting the URL of this one.

Tags 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 3d printing action advent of code aeronautics aikakirja anecdote animation anime army astronomy audio audio tech aviation base commerce battletech beer boardgaming book of the week bookmonth chain of command children chris chronicle church of no redeeming virtues cold war comedy computing contemporary cornish smuggler cosmic encounter coup covid-19 crime cthulhu eternal cycling dead of winter doctor who documentary drama driving drone ecchi economics en garde espionage essen 2015 essen 2016 essen 2017 essen 2018 essen 2019 essen 2022 essen 2023 existential risk falklands war fandom fanfic fantasy feminism film firefly first world war flash point flight simulation food garmin drive gazebo genesys geocaching geodata gin gkp gurps gurps 101 gus harpoon historical history horror hugo 2014 hugo 2015 hugo 2016 hugo 2017 hugo 2018 hugo 2019 hugo 2020 hugo 2022 hugo-nebula reread in brief avoid instrumented life javascript julian simpson julie enfield kickstarter kotlin learn to play leaving earth linux liquor lovecraftiana lua mecha men with beards mpd museum music mystery naval noir non-fiction one for the brow opera parody paul temple perl perl weekly challenge photography podcast politics postscript powers prediction privacy project woolsack pyracantha python quantum rail raku ranting raspberry pi reading reading boardgames social real life restaurant reviews romance rpg a day rpgs ruby rust scala science fiction scythe second world war security shipwreck simutrans smartphone south atlantic war squaddies stationery steampunk stuarts suburbia superheroes suspense television the resistance the weekly challenge thirsty meeples thriller tin soldier torg toys trailers travel type 26 type 31 type 45 vietnam war war wargaming weather wives and sweethearts writing about writing x-wing young adult
Special All book reviews, All film reviews
Produced by aikakirja v0.1