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Imagine Bertie Wooster with more IQ but the same basic outlook and approach to life and you have Albert Campion. He is a sleuth who keeps you guessing just as much as the ne’er-do-wells he pursues. His wit is so subtle and his character so unostentatiously outlandish, that lots of things get by you (well, ok, by me). Just be prepared to rewind from time to time or you’ll miss some exquisite stuff.
The plot, like the main character, is offbeat as well. Much of the time we’re not even sure if a crime has been committed. It looks like a possible murder, and it looks like a possible kidnapping, but is it? Were the previous attempts on the supposed victim’s life really attempts, or a series of odd accidents?
Heading our supporting cast is the gloomy, fatalistic Lugg, Campion’s man, who seems to know everyone who’s anyone in criminal circles—possible because, not too far back, he himself was a someone in those circles. The by-play between master and man is as funny as any Bertie-and-Jeeves banter, in a completely different and delightful way.
All of the above Francis Matthews conveys with a deft, unhurried delivery that gets every character right. He can make Campion sound as simple-minded as any member in good standing at the Drones and then as perceptive as Lord Peter Wimsey. Very fitting, if my sources are correct. I'm told that Allingham’s original impetus for creating Campion was as a parody of Lord Peter.
There will definitely be more Campion on the Wish List.
12 of 12 people found this review helpful
Margery Allingham is a jewel, her books are jewels - small bright and glittering with color, and the Albert Campion series is her crown jewel. NEVER read one unabridged! But where are the Campions? (PS - read them in order if you can!)
8 of 8 people found this review helpful
What made the experience of listening to Mystery Mile the most enjoyable?
Francis Matthews' unique comprehension of the mood of the early Allingham novels - a joyous blend of ridiculous humour and thrilling whodunnit.
What was one of the most memorable moments of Mystery Mile?
The last round between Campion and Simister, a real thriller against a positively Dickensian backdrop. The scene-setting, even in this early novel, almost matches parts of Great Expectations and David Copperfield.
Have you listened to any of Francis Matthews’s other performances? How does this one compare?
This is up with any of Francis Matthews' renditions, even though this early novel, although very good - the first to really "star" Campion - is not the best possible source material. I do wish Audible would crack on and reissue the rest of them. Francis Matthews had a real feel for this material, head and shoulders above any other audio version.
If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?
I'm hopeless at tag lines and don't see what this contributes to a review.
Any additional comments?
Yes, the Francis Matthews version of Allingham's Dancers in Mourning is very rare. I've seen second hand sets of tapes for more than $200. So, please do that one plus More Work for the Undertaker - in which Matthews is truly inspired. The latter is a really great tale with wonderful characters which the reader clearly lived!
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
First off, this is a good reading of the story. I tried one of David Thorpes recent efforts and was appalled by his voicing of Campion as one of Bertie Woosters dumber friends. In comparison this is a unremarkable but non distracting version of Albert. It's a cracking story although it does meander at times, particularly around the death of StSwithen, where it's not altogether clear to the reader /listener exactly what purpose all the clues actually mean even after several readings.... In this respect the Peter Davison tv show handled this aspect better than the author.
The book really picks up once Albert and his pals embark on their rescue mission. Anyway, neglected and excellent crime fiction from the golden age.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful