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More Work for the Undertaker (Classic Crime) Paperback – 25 Sep 1986


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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (25 Sep 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014008777X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140087772
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 1.7 x 18 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,376,104 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Philip Franks sounds, marvellously, as if he's reading in a dinner-jacket . . . Fabulous (INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY)

Margery Allingham stands out like a shining light. Everything she writes has a definite shape ... each book has its own separate and distinctive background (Agatha Christie) --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

Book Description

Campion enters into a highly eccentric household where all is not what it seems and two suspicious deaths remain unsolved -- classic British crime writing at its best. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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4.6 out of 5 stars
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 26 Oct 2000
Format: Paperback
Allingham at one of her best character-thrillers. Apron street, a throughfare stuck in an older time frame: a street not "to go up" according to the criminal fraternity. A wonderfully weird collection of people: there are Jas Bowels and Son Rowley the undertakers; and then the Palinode brothers and sisters, living in a world of naive eccentricity, two of whom have already left this life in mysterious circumstances. Into this world comes Albert Campion, assisting Detective Inspector Charles Luke and his team by being on the inside. Wonderfully described cameos such as Jas and Son moving an ebony-veneered coffin in the early hours of the morning. A treasure of a thriller captiviting the imagination and the intellect. A set of imaginative characters but in a real world of death and its consequences. It ends with a surreal chase through the night, police cars after a horse-drawn coffin brake. Sadly, they don't write them like this anymore.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Damaskcat HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 28 Jan 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Albert Campion has been asked to help in a case which is puzzling his old boss. The Palinodes are a wealthy family which has fallen on hard times and two of them have died in what may or may not be suspicious circumstances. Campion has also been offered a job abroad which he is in two minds about whether to accept. In the end the lure of police work is something he cannot resist. The house in which all the remaining Palinodes live is situated in Apron Street which seems like a throwback to an earlier age.

In the same street there is a very old fashioned bank, and undertakers and a chemist. The Palinode house is run as a lodging house by an old friend of Albert's and she welcomes him like the long lost cousin he is pretending to be. It soon becomes clear that there is a lot more going on beneath the surface than is at first apparent and Campion's contact in the police force - Charlie Luke - is becoming more and more confused by what Campion has uncovered. This is the first one of Margery Allingham's Campion novels I've read and I found it entertaining reading. Campion himself is an interesting character and all the other characters are well drawn and believable.

I thought the plot was extremely good and complex with lots of strands and plenty of people making oblique remarks whose meaning only becomes clear gradually. I didn't work out what was happening before the tense denouement though the clues are there for an observant reader. Clearly I wasn't sufficiently observant! Having said that I do like crime novels where I don't manage to work out who the murderer is. Overall this is a very well written example of the Golden Age of British crime fiction. It is a tense and atmospheric read with many strange and eccentric characters. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys crime novels written in the classic mould.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By David Payne on 9 May 2009
Format: Paperback
I first read this story twenty-odd years ago and I was so impressed by it that I have tried to read all of Margery Allingham's Mr Campion detective stories since. This one has all the ingredients that I've come to expect from this series of detective novels: an unusual plot, weird names like Stanislaus Oates (a police detective), weird characters like the Palinode family who are central to the story and finally, a very clever title. To find out why this particular title is so apt you need to read the book. If you've never read any of Margery Allingham's books before, this is the one to start with.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Holt on 13 July 2012
Format: Paperback
'The Tiger in the Smoke' may be Allingham's greatest Campion novel, but 'More Work for the Undertaker' gives me more pleasure than any of them. For a start, it has Lugg's most wonderful line; he refers to his brother-in-law, the undertaker Jas Bowels, as "Bowels by name and Bowels by nature"! But there are so many more treats in store. This novel introduces Charlie Luke, one of the greatest characters in crime literature. A London copper who talks with his whole body, his conversation a catalogue of abbreviated paragraphs augmented by hand movements, facial expressions, twitches of the shoulders, and innumerable other phsyical gestures that are largely left to the imagination of the reader. Then there's the Palinodes, the children of a prominent late-Victorian academic: totally broke, essentially unemployable, intellectually outstanding, highly educated, living as tenants in the vast house that used to be theirs. And then, somebody starts to kill them....

Campion is persuaded to abandon a budding career in diplomacy, which he never wanted anyway, and investigate by moving into the Palinode household as the "nephew" of the landlady - Renee Roper. Remember her from 'Dancers in Mourning'? This he does successfully, at the same time as uncovering an ingenious scheme for helping criminals evade justice.

This wonderful story includes a highly evocative description of London after the war, but before the local planning authorities moved in to finish the job started by the bombers of the Third Reich. You can still see it, if you look hard and employ imagination, but much of the ambience has been ruined by reckless development when money was tight. Thanks Margery, for the social history!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jean Nisbet on 21 Jan 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm a great fan of the classic mystery-writers: Agatha Christie, John Creasey, Dorothy L Sayers - and Margery Allingham. More Work for the Undertaker is a period piece: old-fashioned language, slightly stilted, and a very conventional hero. Very entertaining. I'd forgotten just how Allingham's stories rattle along. I'll be re-readng more!
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