This was the first Allingham I read, but I was 12 at the time and didn't really understand it - particularly the seemingly inappropriate inanity of Campion. Since then, I have revisited it several times and it is now one of my favourite books by any author. Sweet Danger contains: adventure, detection, humour, romance, and one of the most intelligent fictional treatments of black magic that I have ever read. As with all good fiction, it helps to have sufficient knowledge of the time it was written to make the plot credible. For here we have a fictional hereditary fiefdom situated near the ancient independent maritime power of Dubrovnik, and a taste of rural English life in the 1920s that is not too far removed from the feudal period.
The novel is set in Allingham's favoured Suffolk - this time the north west near the border with Norfolk. The author paints a wonderfully evocative picture of life in out-of-the-way English places early in the last century, including a decrepit water mill, a pub friendly but not overly-welcoming of strangers, some weird customs, and the wonderful house of one of Allingham's greatest characters - the decidedly creepy Dr Galley - suffering from decades of social isolation and too much of the wrong sort of reading! Not that this tale lacks competing compelling characters. In addition to Galley, Campion, and Lugg, these include: Brett Savanake - a super-industrialist (also creepy) used to getting his own way whatever the cost to others, Amanda Fitton - brave, clever, vibrant, technical - later to become Campion's wife (although 16 years younger!), Hal Fitton - Amanda's pompous younger brother, Scatty Williams - Amanda's helper in running the mill and a wonderful, admiring sidekick for Lugg when the going gets tough, plus many other minor but important players. Campion's task is to prove Hal to be the legal heir to the fiefdom, pitted against the ruthless determination of Savanake and his criminal hirelings.
Here, Allingham intelligently develops the character of Campion in a pacey yarn that you will find hard to put down. In addition to the clever, funny - but infuriatingly inane - adventurer of the past, we have Campion the deadly-serious - but only occasionally, and Campion the courageous super-hero - his final showdown with the gargantuan Savanake is breath-taking. We also see the first steps leading up to Campion's eventual marriage to Amanda. She figures large in several subsequent novels, where the ups and downs of their relationship often form a key part of the plot. To successfully combine all these elements in a well-constructed and well-written tale takes literary skills of the highest order. Fortunately, Allingham was well up to the task.