Mr. Campion's Farewell

Being a long-time fan of Margery Allingham’s mysteries featuring the dim-looking yet bright Albert Campion, I was intrigued to find out that Campion returns in a new mystery, Mr. Campion’s Farewell, the third novel begun by Allingham’s husband, Pip Youngman Carter, and completed by Mike Ripley with the co-operation of the Margery Allingham Society. Intrigued and slightly unsure, of course, since it deals with one of my favourite detectives.

The mystery is set in September 1969 amdist flower power and hippies but we are transported to a small English village that has remained virtually unchanged since time immemorial when it was one of the important centres of the wool trade. It is to Lyndsay Carfax that Campion makes his way on a pretense to see artist Eliza Jane Fitton, his wife Amanda’s niece. But Campion is there because his friend, Superintendent Charles Luke of the CID, is feeling uneasy but what is happening in the village but cannot point out why. There is been a legend that Lyndsay Carfax is ruled by nine Carders, a secret group that controls everything in the village. Over the years there have been several incidents where unruly folk have disappeared for nine days, returning rattled to keep a low profile for the rest of their days. Most recently, Lemuel Walker, the village schoolmaster who has been digging unwanted history, had disappeared for nine days and returned broken and in fear. And yet he refuses to press charges. And so Campion is there to find out what is going on in this superficially calm village. When he learns that Eliza has been injured in a suspicious accident, he knows that someone is getting rattled. Will he unearth the secret of the Carders? And will he remain unscathed?

Mr. Campion’s Farewell has a pretty decent mystery at its heart. But the thing about reading the mysteries of the golden age over the years is that it isn’t just about the mystery. We’ve grown to love the characters and this is probably the trickiest part of getting it right. I liked the Campion which Ripley unfolds in this novel. He is old yet sprightly and has grown into his character. His wife Amanda is a hot shot aircraft engineer and we also have a cameo from his right hand man, Magersfontein Lugg. Although the novel gradually comes into its own, the beginning was difficult as you can see Ripley struggling to find his voice and, perhaps, trying too hard to sound contemporary. There was a lot of dialogue which was a little too wordy and didn’t sit right. However, you can imagine how much fun Ripley had trying to recreate the world created by Allingham and Carter and he does eventually succeed as the mystery picks up speed. Overall, I enjoyed the mystery and look forward to the sequel, Mr. Campion’s Fox.

I would like to thank the publisher for kindly sending me a copy to review. Mr Campion’s Farewell, completed by Mike Ripley, is published by Severn House and priced £19.99.