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Campion comes across as far too silly for my tastes and it's hard to take him seriously given the voice used for him, despite the fact he does a good job doing the few things we know about. I'll continue listening to the series, though, because I know he matures and grows to become the detective I know of old. I love books set during that period. The types of British Empire characters and the language expressions of the 20s and 30s are interesting and fun.
I also like the bit of formality and melodrama offered by the style in which such stories are related. Who was your favorite character and why? Albert Campion's voice, at first, repelled me, but when I realized that he was a Bertie Wooster-type, but quite smart, that caused me to listen to it in a different light is this a mixed metaphor? Albert knows he appears an idiot "vacuous" is the word oft-used in the books and he knows that this helps him to get the information he requires to accomplish what he has set out to do.
Albert's recitations of anything that happens are gems! Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry? Like I said, at first Albert's voice almost made me stop listening. It was very irritating, as was his personality. But I kept listening and soon understood that there was a method to his madness!
It's a good mystery, but the period story demands melodrama and exaggeration. I felt like I was listening to an old radio serial without sound effects or music. If you like the stories I mentioned to begin with, you should give this a try, keeping in mind my cautions about Albert's voice and personality. A cracking good story, but a bit brainy, what? And I say, they never cleared up that bit about the uncle's mask.
Or did they? Must ask Jeeves He'll know. The sound quality of this recording was superb. The narrator left a lot to be desired in my opinion. I will not be purchasing more books by this narrator if it can be avoided. Some of his voice work was fabulous, but a lot of it was less than appealing. His tone was often wrong in terms of matching what was happening in the story and many of his character voices were so annoying I lost track of what he was actually saying.
Ironically there were moments when his character voices were also extremely good. It made me very conflicted through the first half of the story as to whether or not I liked his narration but by the end of the book I simply could not wait for it to be over so I would not have to listen to him any more.
The characters in the story were not very fleshed out. Even the main characters, Dr. Abernathy, Albert Campion, and Meggie were not overly developed. Most of Dr. Abernathy's character development was centered on how amazed he was to have human-like feelings for Meggie. Not exactly riveting revelations of his character or personality.
Albert Campion was really more of a side character in this one, but since this is the book that started his series I would have expected a bit more development there, but perhaps it was not written with the intent to make a new story star. The villains in this piece were almost like random bit parts that would appear and then disappear for long stretches. This is not uncommon for this type of mystery, however, the fact the villains were just a bit too over the top to be believed did not help the story keep reader interest.
The story itself was very typical of the genre and time period. A house party where sinister activity happens resulting in a mysterious death is tried and true plot for this type of book. There were several aspects of this particular story which made it slightly different, some of them were good and some not so much. I try not to spoil the story, so I will not say much except there were true moments of brilliance in my opinion I love the mad cook scenes and many moments of boredom as I listened to it as well. Anytime the characters as a group were involved it became almost farcical to a point where I again felt myself being annoyed.
I felt the ending was very disappointing and when the murderer and reason behind it were revealed I almost wanted to reach out and smack the author. I saw the true murderer coming for a long time, but I was appalled and the flimsy backstory on why the murder happened. It was an interesting book and I am glad to have listened to it once, but it will never be a classic in terms of books I enjoy listening to again and again. David Thorpe is an excellent narrator and this must have been a very difficult book to narrate as there is a lot of dialogue and mostly young men.
Fortunately the author usually makes it clear who is talking. As to the way Thorpe reads Albert Campion's voice - some have criticized its high nasal quality in this reading, but this is exactly the way the author describes the way he talks. Be sure to pay attention to the names of the characters or it can get confusing who is who. The plot is very complex but the tone of the book is light. A good listen when you want something not too serious. As always the story and the characters hold you completely in thrall, but the new narrator, David Thorpe, makes virtually everyone sound like a complete idiot.
Once you screen out the voices, the book comes through fine, but the previous narrator, Francis Matthews, did an infinitely better job. This is not the best novel to start with as an introduction to the Albert Campion character. I like Margery Allingham, but have read her works out of sequence and this one just didn't capture me at all.
Don't use this volume as any indication of how the Campion character or mysteries progress. Instead dive into one of the later novels "Flowers for the Judge" or "Death of a Ghost" to get a much better introduction to the craft of this writer and the pleasures of her more developed skill.
Well so much for finding another series that I could enjoy working my way through. This was such a disappointment. The narrator just killed it for me. His choices for voices turned characters into caricatures. Any flaws the book had, and it had a number, were just magnified by the narrators rendition of the text. I'll try again with another narrator--with the hope that a new narrator and some maturity on the part of the author produces a better result.
I remembered liking several of Margery Allingham's books when I was younger, but I had never read this one--and I hadn't missed a thing. This must have been an early effort because it is poorly executed and a ridiculous plot. Can't tell if Allingham doesn't write as well as I thought she did or the PBS series done several years ago corrected her mistakes or it just is too dated--but don't waste your time here. The elderly wheelchair-bound colonel likes the company of young people, so often asks Wyatt to bring a group of his friends down for the weekend.
George, though, is there mainly because he's fallen in love with a girl who is also a guest, Meggie Oliphaunt, and he hopes to find an opportunity to propose to her. Colonel Coombe has also invited a few friends of his own. In the evening, talk turns to old legends and Wyatt reluctantly tells of the ritual of a dagger that hangs prominently on the wall.
The ritual involves turning off the lights and running around the house in the dark, passing the knife from person to person. What jolly fun!
No More Mr. Nice Guy
However when the lights come up Colonel Coombe is found dead. His friends tell the assembled company that his death was expected as he was very ill, and hasten to get a cremation certificate signed and hustle the body off the premises, so as not to spoil the weekend! But it soon becomes obvious to George that there's something fishy going on! This is apparently the book in which Allingham's regular 'tec, Albert Campion, makes his first appearance, although in this one, George is the main focus and Campion is a secondary character.
George is a sensible young man, but Campion appears to be a foolish fop, like Bertie Wooster, only with fewer brains and a falsetto voice. He does develop a bit more depth as the book progresses, but it's a strange first outing.
There is much running to and fro through secret tunnels, which are nearly as complex as the convoluted plot involving criminal gangs, mysterious papers and suchlike. Despite the darkness of the plot, and some episodes of viciousness on the part of the baddies, the general tone is light and fun. George and Meggie are both likeable characters, and their romance is handled nicely, not overwhelming the story but giving the reader something to care about amidst all the mayhem.
Campion adds a lot of humour to the story, partly laughing with him and partly laughing at him. He's shrewder than he first appears, but in the end it's down to George to solve the puzzle of what it is the colonel's friends are looking for, and who killed the colonel. And of course to engineer the escape from the baddies. In fact, Campion more or less disappears towards the end and plays no part in the final denouement — presumably at that point Allingham didn't see him as her central character. The course of the Missouri river changes over time and after years, the golem is discovered and released.
As his original victim is long-dead, the monster begins to hunt down blood relatives and it takes unearthly forces, and a motorcycle, to stop it. Far more down to Earth, though with a setting famous for its unworldly beauty is the exciting What Lies Buried by Margaret Kirk Orion which is a very good example of Tartan Noir, if I can use that expression for a very professional police procedural investigation set in the wild and lonely place which is the Highlands of Scotland.
Is it possible that we can expect a future division into Highland and Lowland Noirs, just as we have Island and Speyside malt whiskies? In another spelling, Ostara, it is also the name of the small, boutique publisher which includes Top Notch Thrillers among its imprints. One missing. One a murderer. One trying to find the truth.
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They are, respectively: Who Killed Ruby? A Deluge of Sherlocks. Most readers of crime fiction are aware that Sherlock Holmes had his imitators, but I suspect that few have any idea of just how many he had, and how quickly they emerged scrabbling at his coat-tails. More Rivals of Sherlock Holmes , published by No Exit, contains a cornucopia of known names, unknown names and probably known unknowns. Hornung, Baroness Orczy and R. Austin Freeman should ring a few bells, if faintly. Some of the rival detectives, though, may not. Dick Donovan, as created by Preston Muddock?
The collection will delight Sherlockians if only by confirming their belief in the brilliance of the original and also serious students of crime fiction history. I have only one quibble. Given that the period covered was roughly between and , the cover shows a pair of flintlock pistols which were at least forty years out-of-date by then, except among duelling aristocrats in long Russian novels, and had been replaced by revolvers; and by the time these stories were written, cutting edge German technology, thanks to both Herr Mauser and Herr Luger, had developed the automatic pistol.
Odd Awards. Is it just me or has anyone else thought it odd that one of the titles short-listed in the Iceland Noir Awards is James M. Perhaps it has only just been translated into Icelandic. On checking, I discover that her debut novel was published in New Zealand in but has taken over a decade to find a UK publisher. My more astute, or at least awake, readers will have instantly made the connection to John Bingham and his daughter Charlotte , one of our best, and also most neglected, crime writers in my not so humble opinion, right from his ground-breaking debut My Name is Michael Sibley in to his excellent spy story The Double Agent in John Bingham the heir to an Irish barony was to become the seventh Lord Clanmorris.
Hence the Smiley reference. I was inspired to find out more about John Bingham by Goldsboro Books in London when, as I was passing their impressive frontage, I noticed an al fresco display of second-hand paperbacks. The first-person narrator telling the story does so almost as a confession to the reader, whilst trying desperately not to confess to the police.
Love it, Hate it Love it really. I have always respected the opinions of John Norris, former bookseller and very knowledgeable fan of vintage crime fiction, and am a regular reader of his Pretty Sinister Books blog. Over the years we have agreed on many things, albeit John is an American, particularly some disgracefully forgotten authors such as P. Hubbard and John Blackburn, and disagreed on very little.