I am a long-time admirer of Margery Allingham’s work, so when we were asked to view this book by Camilla of the Allingham Society, I was pleased to do so.
This is a collection of short stories, many, but not all, featuring Albert Campion. Of necessity, they must make their point quickly, presenting the case as economically as possible. One must be quick to catch the essentials of each story–to try to discover the clues to the solution. The Allingham qualities I like most, the vibrant descriptions, discovering the dimensions of some very intriguing characters, are best suited to full-length novels, I think.
I liked the first offering “Tall Story”, that gave us a chance to observe Charles Luke and Albert Campion working in tandem. “Three is a Lucky Number” was amusing, as was “Little Miss Know-All” with its luxurious sapphire mink. “The Lieabout” was narrated by a person who remained unnamed throughout, a device that I thought matched well with the enigmatic character of the story itself. In all, there are 18 stories to enjoy, ending with “The Snapdragon and the C.I.D.” which offers Albrt Campion and Stanislaus Oates in a Christmas Day story featuring discovery of a body partially covered in mistletoe.
Short stories need to be clever, and these certainly are–as ingeniously constructed as anything Christie wrote. The cleverness extends to the titles, for those paying attention. Allingham excels at these stories, as she does in everything she writes. But I did not enjoy reading them as much as I do her full-length works. Still, this is a fetching array of intriguing treats. As a parting gift the book concludes with the first chapter of Traitor’s Purse.
My thanks to the Allingham Society for providing an advance copy of these delightful stories.