He was haunted by the face of a girl, a girl lovely beyond all imagining, with stark terror in her wide grey eyes.
Robin Grey is Scotland Yard’s inside man – handling matters requiring a delicacy, integrity, and secrecy outside the jurisdiction of regular government offices. He is a man of details, of observation, and of intuition.
While lurking about Waterloo station on a mission for the Foreign Office, Grey’s interest is piqued by a suspicious looking character. Tailing him, Grey catches the man shove a fellow passenger onto the train tracks. Rushing to intervene, Robin Grey never stops to think that saving the victim might ensnare him in the same sinister plot.
Heiress Jennifer Fern is cursed: tragic accidents have claimed two past fiancés, and she would have lost a third had it not been for Robin Grey’s heroic actions. Terrorized by the torment that stalks her, Grey is drawn to this young woman and feels honor-bound to help her. Tempting fate, he goes undercover to solve this deadly mystery.
But if loving Miss Jennifer Fern means certain death, can Grey protect her, and his own heart, before history repeats itself?
In this early book, Margery Allingham (“Maxwell March”) presents us with a character that seems a precursor of her famous Albert Campion. There are differences–while Albert is an independent agent, Robin is a Scotland Yard man. Robin also does not have quite the mystique of “Albert Campion” (which we are told is a pseudonym for a man of many names and, apparently, some high royal connections).
But the story is well told, and grips us early on with a dramatic rescue and the presence of a lovely damsel in distress who, of course, captures the heart of young Robin. There is an archenemy, The Dealer, in this story, unseen and achieving his goals through the use of a near-diabolical blackmail scheme. Allingham’s gift for fine descriptive passages and creating an undercurrent of suspense and great evil is evident. Beyond that, it’s difficult to say too much about the story itself as it unfolds without dropping spoilers. The villain has one stupendous secret, and Allingham has given some tantalizing hints along the way for the observant reader. It’s also challenging to determine just who are the good guys and who are the villains. Allingham does manage to create some chilling dangers and inventive escapes for our young lovers (and we are pretty sure that they, at least, are good guys).
In short, this book demonstrates that Allingham showed her mastery of suspenseful writing early on; her powers developed throughout her years of writing.
My thanks to Camilla of the Margery Allingham Estate for providing an advance copy to read and review. The book also includes a bonus: the later Allingham story, The Tiger in the Smoke, which I have previously reviewed.