When my Auntie Laura died sixteen years ago, I was lucky to receive a few of her books, including a two-volume mystery compilation.
I love to think of this former schoolteacher sitting in her cozy living room reading from them. These books are treasures for the mystery lover. They contain novels, novelettes, and stories from many of the great writers. Here you will find unabridged works by such authors as Agatha Christie, Georges Simenon, Ellery Queen, Rex Stout, Daphne Du Maurier, and Cornell Irish whose short story, It Had To Be Murder was the basis for Alfred Hitchcock's movie, Rear Window. The story was featured here in the early days of this blog.
Today I decided to read a story by Margery Allingham, featuring her detective Albert Campion. I've read only one Campion book, and keep meaning to read more in the series.
The story begins with Campion's young friend, Juliet wanting him to tell her all about the jewel robberies that have been taking place in London. During the course of their conversation, we learn about her fiancé Philip, his 'Auntie Flo,' otherwise known as Florence, Dowager Countess of Marle, and Philip's 'man' whom he fired after learning he had a criminal record. Juliet is appalled by this, and being a feisty young women she got him a new job with the unknowing Aunt Flo. Two other characters are a traveling manicurist, and Campion's policeman friend Chief Detective Inspector Stanislaw Oates. In just these few pages, we get a mystery presented and solved in the most interesting and entertaining manner. The Dowager Countess turns out to be an older version of Juliet, a strong, assertive, and compassionate woman.
I really like Margery Allingham's writing. There is wit and humor in the midst of a mystery. When Juliet wants to tell Campion about Philip,
Mr. Campion smiled ruefully. It was a sign of the end of the thirties, he supposed, when one submitted cheerfully to the indignity of taking a young woman out only to hear about her hopes and fears concerning a younger man.The author was 32 when this story was published, and the reader may imagine her little smile as she wrote those words.
Perhaps 2012 will be the year I read more of the Campion books. I look forward to them with great joy.
The Case Of The White Elephant
14 pages long
first published, 1936 in Mr. Campion: Criminologist
included in A Treasury of Great Mysteries
edited by Howard Haycraft and John Beecraft, 1957.