Both the skeleton and the corpse have died with suspicious convenience for Georgia Wells, a monstrous but charming actress with a raffish entourage. Georgia's best friend just happens to be Valentine, a top couturière and Campion's sister. In order to protect Valentine, Campion must unravel a story of blackmail and ruthless murder....
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Wonderful performance, dated story
Leaves a nasty taste in one's mouth
There I was, making my way slowly through this series, enjoyable the affable, comical and thoughtful Albert Campion when suddenly this story rears its ugly head. While the plot is adequate, the author has gone out of her way to write some seriously weird dialogue that makes every character (except for the young boy) obnoxious in the extreme.
The female characters seem to be written solely for the author to set up in humiliating situations and the male characters are SO misogynist that it would almost be laughable if it wasn't so insulting to men and women. Yes, I know the book was published in 1938 but surely even then it would be considered shocking and revolting for a brother to suggest to his sister that she needs "a good rape"!
One of the men dumps his girlfriend to have a blatant affair with her friend and then, without a word of explanation or apology, returns to her to propose marriage, or perhaps indentured servitude would be a better description. She is a highly successful designer and the romantic bastard tells her he'll marry her on the condition that she gives up her entire life to him, become his possession (his exact words) and that this arrangement will be strictly a one-way street. She simply cannot wait to agree to this wonderful bargain. These are just a couple of examples; there are plenty more.
Francis Matthews does an excellent job of narrating, and he has my sympathy. There is not nearly enough story to distract from the grotesque relationships. I don't know what Ms. Allingham was ingesting while composing this one but I am going to do my best to forget it and hope that the next in the series will return to some semblance of reality.Thoroughly NOT recommended.