Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Margery Allingham: The Golden Age of Mystery

I am a list person. I list the books I read in the order in which I read them and write reviews of each book. I have been doing this for many, many years. I also make lists of my favorite books and my favorite authors. And those I don't put in any kind of order, especially when it comes to the Ladies of The Golden Age of Mystery.

Although their books adhere to a certain formula, their heroes or male protagonists are as different from each other as humanly possible. For example, Hercule Poirot (Agatha Christie), Roderick Alleyn (Ngaio Marsh) and Albert Campion (Margery Allingham) are three sleuths who not only solve crimes differently but are complete opposites in personality and appearance. Hercule is the little persnickety (in my opinion) egg-shaped genius. Roderick is tall, dark and handsome. And Albert is a quiet, mild-mannered man. I love all three who solve crimes in their own individual style.

This week I am concentrating on Margery Allingham and my favorite of her novels: The Gyrth Chalice Mystery, featuring, of course, Albert Campion. In fact when I read it in 2006, I also included it as number one in my list of best books read that year.

My review of the book was short and I included a quote that I found somewhere, probably on the back cover blurb:

An Albert Campion mystery, published 1931. "A mystery at its British best. The Tower Room holds a priceless relic, a a chilling secret...and Campion face to face with Death!" A rousing tale, implausible but great fun.

I gave the book an A+ rating.

Wikipedia describes Campion this way: "Campion is thin, blond, wears glasses, and is often described as affable, inoffensive and bland, with a deceptively blank and unintelligent expression. He is, nonetheless, a man of authority and action, and considers himself to be a helpful and comforting "Uncle Albert" to friends and those in need." The actor Peter Davison portrayed him in the 1989/90 British TV series. I thought he personified the above description perfectly.

Supposedly, Allingham first created him as a parody to Dorothy Sayers' crime solver, Lord Peter Wimsey. Since I didn't know that while I was reading both authors' books, I never made the connection and considered the two crime solvers to be completely different.

I always enjoy an Allingham novel or short story featuring Campion and have tried to read them in the order in which they were written. After Allingham died, her husband finished her last manuscript.

I have read fifteen of her twenty novels featuring Campion and look forward to the last five. She also wrote many short stories featuring him also.


Marilyn Levinson said...

I bought several Albert Campion novels in England some years ago. I enjoyed every one of them.

Palmaltas said...

Thank you, Marilyn, I have enjoyed all the ones I've read also.

marja said...

I'm really enjoying your blogs about the Golden Age of Mystery. Very interesting. Have you ever read Stuart Palmer? He's also from the thirties and his main character is a prim school teacher. Quite entertaining.

Palmaltas said...

Thanks, Marja. No, I haven't read Stuart Palmer. I must look for him.

Patg said...

I like this discussion, hope to see more. I've read all things Christie-2 and 3 times each-and Sayers, but never read Allingham though I watched the TV series and enjoyed it. Not a Marsh fan.

Palmaltas said...

Thanks, Patg! How funny the way we see things differently. I love Marsh's Roderick Alleyn. I subconsciously created the hero for the first novel I ever wrote after Alleyn. I even named him Roderick Alleyn until one day ( picked up a Marsh book and realized what I had done. Naturally I changed his name--somewhat. LOL