This week I’ve been reading the first of Mike Ripley’s reanimation of Margery Allingham’s Albert Campion. This is not so much a continuation of Margery Allingham’s work as a continuation of her husband’s, Pip Youngman Carter. It’s very obviously written from a male point of view. However, I come to praise Caesar, not to bury him, and I found this highly enjoyable, from the map of the fictional Lindsay Carfax (which is oddly reminiscent of Lavenham) at the front, complete with a Blyton-esque diagram of secret passages, to the final recognition by Campion that “both of us have had our day”. (Not that that’s prevented a couple of sequels.) It has the full array of rustic/ artistic/ threatening characters, although very little Lugg. There’s the Sherlockian “dog in the night-time” clue, when Superintendent Luke says there’s too little crime in Lindsay, with none ever reported. It’s never good news when locals take matters into their own hands, not in a crime novel.
Campion has to survive attacks on his car, being shot in the legs, and the driving of his niece, Eliza Jane Fitton, who is making a living painting local scenes. Nothing must get in the way of the local tourist trade, and a secret group, known as the Carders, have the town sewn up. Anyone who comes between them and their financial interests will be stopped, or at least made to disappear for nine days. But who are the nine Carders? Could one of them be Campion’s own Great Aunt Prunella, now living the high life in Monte Carlo? This is perfect 1960s radio serial territory, and none the worse for it. It may not be entirely Allingham, but it is genuinely entertaining.