ALLINGHAM, Margery (1905–66), British novelist
Allingham wrote ‘crime fiction’ only in the sense that each of her books contains the step-by-step solution of a crime, and that their hero, Albert Campion, is an amateur detective whose amiable manner conceals laser intelligence and ironclad moral integrity. But instead of confining Campion within the boundaries of the detective story genre, Allingham put him in whatever kind of novel she felt like writing. Some of her books ( More Work for the Undertaker; The Beckoning Lady) are wild, Wodehousian farce; others ( Sweet Danger; Traitor’s Purse) are Buchanish, Amblerish thrillers. Her best book is The Tiger in the Smoke, set in an atmospheric, cobble-stones-and-alleyways London filled with low-life characters as vivid as any in Dickens. Like all Allingham’s novels, it is not a conventional whodunit, although it contains plenty of mysteries that demand solutions. Jack Havoc, the ‘tiger’ of the title, escapes from jail and the hunt for this violent convict takes place in an eerie and fog-enshrouded London that Allingham brilliantly evokes. Campion and other characters familiar from Allingham’s work loom in and out of the fog as the action moves inexorably towards a violent conclusion.
Allingham’s other Campion books include Coroner’s Pidgin , Police at the Funeral , Hide My Eyes , Look to the Lady and the short-story collections Mr Campion and Others and Take Two at Bedtime . After Allingham’s death, her husband P. Youngman Carter wrote two further Campion novels, one of which, Mr Campion’s Farthing , is up to his wife’s most sparkling standard.
Death of a Ghost (set in London’s eccentric art community and involving – what else? – forged paintings); Hide My Eyes.
Michael Innes, The Daffodil Affair,
Edmund Crispin, The Case of the Gilded Fly,
H.R.F. Keating, A Rush on the Ultimate;
P.D. James, A Taste for Death
Source Credits: Nick Rennison, Good Reading Guide: Discover Your Next Great Read, Bloomsbury Publishing, Seventh Edition