Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Traitor's Purse: Margery Allingham

Albert Campion awakens in a hospital bed with amnesia; he doesn't know who he is but he knows he was on a very important assignment. He overhears a conversation between two policemen that indicates that he has killed someone, and he knows he must escape and search for the truth.

This was a reread but I remembered very little of the plot, and it was a very entertaining read. So far I consider this my favorite in the series, but then I haven't gotten to Tiger in the Smoke, which is the favorite of most Allingham fans.


I can understand why some people don't care for this book as much as other Campion mysteries. It is not a standard mystery, it focuses more on an unknown conspiracy than a murder (although it does have a murder), and the reader knows as little about what is going on as the protagonist. But all of those reasons are why I liked it so much, along with the presence of Lady Amanda Fitton, charming, capable and dependable, who we learn early on has been engaged to Campion but now wants to call it off.

One thing I can say for sure. If you want to try Margery Allingham's mysteries, don't start here. It is book 11 in the Albert Campion series, published in 1940, and it is entirely different from the others. More than one reviewer had a bad experience with this book and noted that it might be due to not reading any others first. Two other books that feature Amanda are Sweet Danger (#5) and The Fashion in Shrouds (#10).

I especially enjoy mystery novels set during World War II, and even more so when they were also written at the time. Knowing that this was written when no one knew the outcome and in a location where the threat was so imminent adds to the thrill.

Please see other reviews at Pining for the West, In so many words, Jandy's Reading Room, and Crime Time.

Also see the review from Tipping My Fedora. I will share a quote from that post:
More of a wartime spy thriller than a classic whodunit, this is a superb adventure and one that forever changed Albert Campion into a new kind of hero, one that we would however not encounter again until the war was over. Allingham was a great writer and this is one of her best books.

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From Mr Campion's Lady, the Second Allingham Omnibus
Publisher:  Chatto and Windus, 1965 (this novel orig. pub. 1940). 
Length:     147 pages
Format:     Hardcover
Setting:     UK
Genre:      Mystery
Source:     Purchased at the Planned Parenthood book sale, 2005.



19 comments:

  1. I like Margery Allingham, but I haven't read any in a while. I've been buying them for my Kindle when they appear as bargain books, so I have quite a few to choose from, including this one.

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    1. I have reread about 5 of her books and enjoyed most of them, Joan. And they are a nice length too.

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  2. I've never read a book by Margery Allingham, though I have known about her series. Have you watched the TV adaptation? Just curious.

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    1. I have watched adaptations of two of the books, Kay, getting them from Netflix. One was a book I had read and I thought they did a really good job with it. And I bought a set of 4 on DVD but haven't watched those yet. I like Peter Davison who plays Campion in that TV series.

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  3. I'm glad you enjoyed this one, Tracy. As you say, it's not universally loved. But I always gave Allingham credit for this different approach to story-telling. And there is something about following along in a story when you don't know any more than the protagonist does, and when you have to unravel what's going on at the same time as the protagonist does.

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    1. I was very glad that this book lived up to my memories of it, Margot. And I do like the variety in some of Allingham's books.

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  4. This is my favorite also, though I have yet to read TIGER. I have several Allingham books there on the shelf, unread, yet when it comes time to pick a new book to read, it seems there's always something from the library, or something else clamoring for my attention.

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    1. I have the same problem with some authors, Rick. And I change my mind constantly about what books appeal to me. I thought I had read all of Allingham's books but I don't remember anything at all about Tiger in the Smoke, so maybe not.

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  5. Thanks for the mention. I seem to remember that I enjoyed this one even more than Tiger in the Smoke. You've really put me in the mood to read another of my several unread Allingham books now.

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    1. I will look forward to reading your thoughts on Allingham's books when you get to more of them, Katrina.

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  6. Glad you enjoyed it Tracy, but unsurprisingly not one for me to read.

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    1. You are right, Col, not surprised at all.

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  7. I loved this book, Tracy. It's my favorite I think of the Albert Campion books precisely because he is not himself and Lugg is not so prominent in the story. TIGER IN THE SMOKE is terrific too, but hated the ending. There are a couple of other Campion books I've enjoyed recently and wrote about. I guess I'm surprising myself by liking Margery Allingham's work as much as I do. Though I'm still not a big fan of Lugg and will not be reading those books in which he plays a major part. Or the books in which a pig is killed if I'm remembering correctly. But aside from that, if not a real fan-girl, at least I'm an agreeably enthusiastic Allingham convert.

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    1. Just based on what little I know of Tiger in the Smoke, I am thinking I will like that one less, Yvette. But eager to give it a try. And I have two before that in the series that I want to read so it will be a while.

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  8. When I read the whole series years ago, this was my least favourite, and I have never re-read it. But I wonder if I might like it better now? - the wartime setting would definitely appeal.

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    1. I have seen some reviews that don't like this one at all, others that love it, Moira. Not surprising with this one, I think.

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  9. I loved it, Tracy. So now I should read The Fashion in Shrouds?

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    1. That is a good question, Mathew. Yes, I would say so. I want to read Pearls Before Swine and More Work for the Undertaker first before Tiger in the Smoke, but mostly because they are towards the end of WWII and post-war and that is a period I especially like.

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