In this, the second appearance of “Albert Campion” we are treated to a masterful and sweeping mystery tale in the grandest of grand manners.
Mr. Campion is quietly enlisted to the aid of Judge Crowdy Lobbett. It soon becomes apparent that Lobbett’s life is in danger because he knows too much about a notorious underworld organization known only as Simister, which is legendary and known to be ruthless.
Judge Lobbett, his son Malcolm and daughter Isopel, are all taken to a remote manor of Mystery Mile for their safety. Arriving at Mystery Mile they are greeted by the (impoverished) lord of the manor, young Giles, and his sister Biddy.
Soon the judge goes missing, which is upsetting for Giles and Biddy, while Albert seems oddly sanguine about this turn of events. The seriousness of the situation is offset by the persistent efforts of a purported art expert who wishes to authenticate and sell an artwork for Judge Lobbett. He seems unable to grasp that Giles and Biddy are more concerned about their father’s life than any artwork. But the man is such a stubborn dunderhead that he is tolerated because that is easier than getting him to desist.
Bit by bit, the tale unfolds for us, as Allingham tantalizes us with hints that offer glimmers but no real answers. Along the way, we do get glimpses behind the curtain of the “Campion” character and learn fascinating things about him. We have always felt he has Friends in High Places, but it now seems that he is closely connected with a European royal family, and we learn that his first name appears to be Rudolph. There is a suggestion of disinheritance, but there still seems to be access to regal treatment and facilities when the need is great.
In reading this book, one is aware of a masterful hand working skillfully on a large elaborate canvas. It is quite exhilarating to experience the creative process as it grows with each chapter we read.