Monday, December 26, 2016
THE FASHION IN SHROUDS - Margery Allingham
"First, there is a skeleton in a dinner jacket. Then a corpse in a golden aeroplane. After another body, Albert Campion nearly makes it a fourth.
Both the skeleton and the corpse have died with suspicious convenience for Georgia Wells, a monstrous but charming actress with a raffish entourage. Georgia's best friend just happens to be Valentine, a top couturier and Campions's sister. Campion must unravel a story of blackmail and ruthless murder."
This is written in 1938 and makes Allingham a contemporary of Agatha Christie but she writes better and gives you all the clues in the book, rather than doing a Christie and pulling the big surprise at the end.
Campion is a very dry fictional detective, plodding, just obtaining the facts. If he was on his own this with be a struggle but Amanda Fitton is introduced who is delightful, full of fun and attaches herself to Campion as his "assistant". With her involved there are genuinely laugh out loud moments.
Allingham's writing can be a convoluted e.g.
"It was a little over six weeks later, one evening when the summer was at its height and London was sprawling, dirty and happily voluptuous, in the yellow evening sun, that Mr Campion, letting himself into the flat, was accosted by a hoarse voice from the bathroom."
She tends to over egg like this often so you have to pay attention or you miss facts but that's the only moan. I love these "golden age" mysteries; what is strange that Allingham is no where as well known as others from this period such as Christie,Sayers,Josephine Tey or Ngaio Marsh.