Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Book Review: Police at the Funeral ★★★★

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Published in 1931 Allingham wrote her mysteries in the height of the golden age of crime fiction, a time when mysteries were supposed to adhere to certain rules. The authors at the time did like to surprise their readers though by finding ways to solve the crime that would be entirely unexpected. Cue Allingham's Police at the Funeral.

Albert Campion, an upperclass professional socialite (but with enough brains to class himself as an adventurer and detective) is called upon to help solve the mystery of his friend Joyce's uncle Andrew's death, found drowned in the river, there are suspicious circumstances, and along with his chum Inspector Oates, Campion solves the mystery with flair.

I bought this book years ago, and should have read it in 2009 when I was writing about Margery Allingham as part of my undergraduate dissertation, but for some reason I never got around to it, and I really don't know why because I absolutely love Campion as a character and all the stories he features in. He manages to appear the fool at all times until he pulls an absolutely genius solution out of the bag. He is constantly fooling people into believing that he hasn't the capacity to be of any threat, when in actual fact he is a very good judge of character. I love that allingham has created such a versatile character.

If you prefer your aristocrats to fulfil the stereotypes but still capable of doing some crime bashing, Campion is rumoured to be a parody of Dorothy L Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey, who is rather more as you would expect for a gentleman detective, no hopping out of fireplaces for him.

Police at the Funeral surprises me every time with how clever it is, even when I know how it will end and who has committed the crimes I smile to myself as I read it or watch an adaptation, and marvel at the skill there is to be found in golden age crime fiction. The construction is marvellous, you are presented each clue in turn, but the most probable solutions seems far fetched, but is it?

I love when a classic mystery can boggle the mind, and boggled my mind was.
★★★★

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