Title: Margery Allingham’s Mr Campion’s Fox. By Mike Ripley
Publisher: Severn House 272 pp
Genre: mystery, English mystery, English cozy, series, murder mystery
Author: Mike Ripley is an award winning British author of mysteries (Fitzroy MacLean Angel series) and historical novels (Legend of Hereward and Boudica). He also writes a brilliant column (March 2015 was his 100th: gems include an axiom of Raymond Chandler “…with agents, it’s enough that you let them live.” And “This column prides itself on being reliably unreliable.”) Working with the Margery Allingham Society he wrote the first Campion mystery in 40 years Mr Campion’s Farewell (2014). He is obviously a long time fan and finds her voice, not just of Campion and his companions but also of the English countryside. I read every Allingham, as well as Sayers, Marsh Tey and Christie. Lord Peter Wimsey was my favourite, but Campion developed his own following, not just as a similar detective (English, aristocrat, well educated, amateur sleuth helping Crown and Scotland Yard). Campion is an alias as he disliked his first name (Rudolph) and as a second son wouldn’t inherit so was encouraged by his grandmother (the Dowager) to be an adventurer. (His grandmother who demanded the Church of Scotland change its name in 1884.) Campion is an old french word for champion, but also may refer to martyr St Edmund Champion given other clues.
These are character driven novels, more adventure than mystery. The Danish Ambassador has requested personal help as his daughter has fallen in with a shady chap. Then they disappear, and of course a body turns up. Finally, Campion’s wife Lady Amanda Fitton has a larger role (she wants him retired, and isn’t altogether approving when her son gets involved). No spoilers, read and enjoy! Campion has aged in this series, he is now in his early seventies(?), but is still mentally sharp, full of wit and t wisdom of age. He recruits his unemployed actor son Rupert, which involves his interesting wife Perdita. I always look forward to any appearance of Lugg too, the reformed burglar/ butler “with the courage of his previous convictions”! Lugg is now Beadle of Brewers’ Hall.
I think you need to know the series in order to fully enjoy these books, but it does make a delightful entertaining read as a stand alone. Lovely details with village map and building facades. I do hope there is another sequel to follow to continue their lives. I loved the glimpses of London, Suffolk countryside, Gapton Spit, and the pubs. North Sea seaside, in November. I am also picturing Peter Davison from the 1989/1990 BBC adaptations of the first 8 novels. (Not forgetting Brian Glover as Lugg and Andrew Burt as Insp Oates).
Mike Ripley Mr Campion’s Farewell (2014)
Margery Allingham from 1929-1969) in order! Novels and short stories
(Tiger in the Smoke (1952) and Death of a Ghost (1934) were among the Best 100 mysteries of the 20th century)
Dorothy Sayers Lord Peter Wimsey series
Josephine Tey Inspector Grant series
Julia Jones biographer Adventures of Mary Allingham
Several authors have also taken on these previous characters including Jill Paton Walsh with the Lord Peter Wimsey and Sherlock (by so many!). But of note also are novels using authors: Josephine Tey is the subject of excellent mysteries by Nicola Upson.
From the preface “For the insatiable collector of trivia, British passport number 1111924, which I have allocated to Francis Tate in this story, was in fact issued to Mrs Margery Louise Carter (nee Allingham) in 1947.”
Opening: “My wife’s people have never quite forgiven you for the Battle of Maldon, Mr Ambassador.” (991AD!)
Like most titles, a hindrance more often than an advantage…
I hope you took an improving book with you…
Immediately would do very nicely, sir.
I reckon he’s the only man in England to go into mourning when the halfpenny stopped bein’ legal tender.
Received/read as an ARC from Netgalley- thanks (I had missed last year’s publication and rectified that!)