Margery Allingham - The Crime at Black Dudley
"...Allingham was extremely good at keeping suspense going to keep her reader enthralled. "
Dr. George Abbershaw and a group of London's brightest things are invited to an ancient pile called Black Dudley. It is during this weekend that a murder takes place amongst the great stone staircases and unlit recesses. This is the start of a case that will have the good doctor uncover a dark plot that finds the guests prisoners against their will. But there is a light amongst the dark – and his name is Albert Campion.
This is Allingham's first novel which, although featuring Albert Campion does not hand him the starring role – that falls to Dr. George Abbershaw. It is well documented that Allingham did not mean for Campion to have a recurring role, much less become such a mainstay in all her detective novels. Here, Campion is far more childish than in subsequent novels. Allingham was still to give Campion a 'devil-may-care' attitude, but it was toned down compared to this original incarnation.
The 'villainous plot' is typical Allingham and the cast are literally scrabbling around in the dark as to what is going on and although it may feel dated to some, Allingham was extremely good at keeping suspense going to keep her reader enthralled. This title, for some reason, has been out of print for a while, but now fans can now again enjoy Campion's 'birth' as it were. For those who have not read Allingham before, this is a great way of being introduced to the detective who was to accompany Allingham for the rest of her life.
Reviewed by: C.S.