The last time I reviewed this book, I said that the abridged version read by the brilliant Jeremy Nicholas was better than the complete version. Allingham herself thought the book overwritten, and cut 25,000 words from it for the 1965 re-issue. 25,000 precious words by one of the best novelists of the 20th century! When I found this out (from the excellent biography by Julia Jones), I ordered a pre-1965 copy and am reading it now. She was wrong to cut it - the full version makes much more sense. So what did she cut? Some dated attitudes to women and Africans, and a lot of the characters' motivations. It's a complicated story and all the main characters face unwelcome truths about themselves, their closest friends, society and humanity. The full version makes much more sense of a central character, the femme fatale Georgia Wells. She springs off the page and you feel her charm, warmth and predatory nature. You understand the physical pull she has - she is always grasping people's hands or putting an arm round their shoulders (and invading their space). She is horribly fascinating and larger than life. The autobiography also shows a the shadowy reality behind Allingham's story. It reads as if she has used raw emotions of her own - her husband was probably serially unfaithful to her, she was a successful businesswoman making her way in a man's world. Even though I have read the shortened version several times, I am finding it a page-turner. She was a brilliant writer who inhabited the same world as Greene, Dickens, Dickens and Conrad.