Friday, June 18, 2010

Mystery Mile by Margery Allingham

32. Mystery Mile (second in the Albert Campion series)
by Margery Allingham
mystery, 1930
library book
unabridged audio read by Francis Matthews
finished, 6/15/10

On the back of the box of tapes it says that Margery Allingham introduced Albert Campion as a secondary character in The Crime at Black Dudley (1929), and that she grew so attached to him he became the central character in Mystery Mile (1930) and 19 more Campion mysteries.

Isn't that just delightful to think of a writer becoming 'attached' to a character?

I recently bought the first in the series in a beautiful edition from Felony & Mayhem. I have mentioned this fantastic company several times on the blog. They offer a great selection of the Campion books with simply beautiful covers. I fully intended to begin my Albert Campion adventure with The Crime at Black Dudley, but one day at the library, while looking for an audio book, Mystery Mile jumped right out at me and whispered, listen, listen. So I did. I loved it. In fact I loved it so much, I plan to buy a print copy from F & M.

The book opens on an ocean liner going from the US to England. There is a conjuring entertainment on board and a volunteer is requested. A young man rushes to the stage and saves the man from what would have been certain death. The man is an American judge traveling with his adult son and daughter to escape being murdered by a criminal group at home. Clearly, the group called Simister (yes an m, not n) has followed him and will stop at nothing until their target is killed. The judge's savior on board ship is none other than our hero, Albert Campion, an unlikely hero in appearance and demeanor. He is a little like Bertie Wooster, but with the brains of Jeeves. He comes up with a plan to bring the judge and his family to a place called Mystery Mile, an isthmus (I feel like the little boy in The Music Man when I try to say that word!) in Suffolk, where only a few families live. Campion is old friends with a young woman and her brother and hopes their home will be a refuge for the judge. Of course it isn't. There are many adventures in store for our little group, both dangerous and romantic. There is mud which is like quicksand. There is a disappearance from a maze which has no escape. There is a mysterious fortune teller who comes, after whose visit a much beloved friend commits suicide.

Albert Campion was a bit of a mysterious fellow himself. I thought I couldn't figure some things out because I hadn't read the first book yet, but from a bit of reading I've done, this is the case throughout the series. We don't learn everything about his past, his family, or his manservant, a former burglar named Lugg.

I loved every minute of my time within these pages. I so look forward to each book in this long series. Margery Allingham is considered one of the queens of Golden Age detective fiction, and now I know why. The only mystery to me is why I didn't begin reading these books long ago. I have seen a few of the televised versions, and now that I've met Mr. Campion in print, I see that Peter Davison was the absolute perfect choice to play him.


  1. sounds like fun - checked the local library and found no book but a whole slew of DVDs, all with waiting lists - I attached my name to end of this one

    isn't that an unusal spelling of 'Margery'?

  2. Yes, it is, Janice, and I like it. There's another author, Margery Sharp who spelled it the same way. Does your library participate in the Inter Library Loan (ILL) program? If so, they can very likely get her work from some other library.

  3. Oh, I love Albert Canpion! So glad you've found him. You have so much fun in store...

    and your photo of the iris looks like an old, wise, bearded man.

  4. Love the idea of an author who is seriously attached to their characters. Another book to add to my list!

  5. Your comparing the hero to "Bertie Wooster with the brains of Jeeves" alone is enough to make me want to get started on reading this series!! And I think I want to re-read my P.G. Wodehouse again :-)

  6. Katherine, I thought that iris looked like a face, too. :<) I'm thrilled to have begun the Campion books.

    Staci, that list must be so long! Where do you keep track of books you want to read? On the computer, in a journal??

    Librarian, I love Wodehouse! He is my very favorite writer.

  7. I've read a couple of these and watched the Netflix DVDs that I could get my hands on! Seems like one is still on my list.

  8. Jenclair, I've seen a few of the televised versions, and my plan is to watch them as I read the books. The guy who plays Lugg is quite memorable!


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