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4.2 out of 5 stars
Mystery Mile
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 4 November 2007
Intrepid hero with attitude takes on subtle forces of darkness with the doubtful help of the comic, the profane and the reassuringly stupid character supporting cast. The plot rackets along with the total assurance of a Mistress of the genre. The characters are always interestingly original and Albert Campion is a triumph of the art deco period. Margery Allingham cannot be said to be underated but she is certainly under celebrated.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 22 March 2001
Quite frankly anyone who could come up with a gang called after a man named 'Simister' and then describe it as 'sinister' has got it coming. That aside, this is probably one of the best Campion stories with lots of action and a good twist at the end. There are also lots of local yokels, two love stories and a bit of dodgy fortune telling. Not to mention a mysterious suicide and some very important quicksand. What more could you want?
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 26 February 2011
It is pure coincidence that this, one of Allingham's earliest novels about Albert Campion, was the first one I ever listened to. I have long been a fan of murder mysteries and have more than my fair share of books and audiobooks by Agatha Christie, Dorothy L Sayers, P D James etc. One day I went to my local bookshop looking for something new and picked out this little gem.

Philip Franks is, in my opinion, an excellent choice of reader. His vocal range is really quite impressive and he captures Campion's supposed slight naivety perfectly.

The plot is delightful - murder, theft, betrayal... It's all there!

This is a worthy item for any murder mystery collection, as are all the Allingham audiobooks I have bought thus far. There are now only two of her stories missing from my collection ;-)
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 12 August 2009
A really good Campion novel. The plot is well thought out, although the Simister gang seems perhaps a little dated now. The character of Campion becomes more fleshed out as the book goes on, and makes you want to find out more about him. The yokels are a scream, and the escape from the 'burning' building really rather funny. And there are a couple of romances and a very satisfactory villain. What's not to like?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 10 September 2008
This rattles along and keeps your interest as long as you don't stop to think although only one element was really a mystery to me (the reason behind St Swithin's seemingly motiveless act). Its central conceit is similar to Conan Doyle's Moriarty and frankly no more convincing. Campion could be a really irritating hero, but the narrator infuses him with a certain charm and also makes much of the other characters particularly Thos and Lug.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 21 October 2014
I like many of Margery Allingham’s Albert Campion novels, particularly those with a strong sense of geography, but found this one trying. Even the chief villain complains that Campion’s schoolboy humour is tiresome, though it is Campion who makes the novel, with his diffident manner and ability to look ahead. I can see why Allingham went on to develop the character over many years; this is only his second appearance (1930) and his gruff-but-true helpers, notably Lugg, are also on the way to being refined, though that doesn’t seem the right word for Lugg. Allingham is of her time in her now-embarrassing portrayals of country yokels, rough city-criminals and, in Lugg’s case, a London sidekick. Women are plucky when they are on Campion’s side. Foreigners are not to be trusted. The villain, too, is more villainous up until the point that he is identified and has to be described in person. Even Sherlock Holmes’ great adversary, Professor Moriarty, is more interesting in his absence, which also the point of T. S. Elliot’s poem:
… he’s called the Hidden Paw.
For he’s the master criminal who can defy the Law.
He’s the bafflement of Scotland Yard, the Flying Squad’s despair:
For when they reach the scene of crime – Macavity’s not there.

In an effort to protect an American judge who knows the identity of the master criminal, Campion hides him in the Suffolk village of Mystery Mile, and here what we could now call Allingham’s psycho-geography comes into its own: there are misty creeks, tidal salt-marshes, quick-sand, a maze, and houses which creak and another with a trap-door to the river (and the quick-sand).

If readers haven’t tried Margery Allingham’s fiction, I wouldn’t start with “Mystery Mile” but would try, one of the later ones., “The China Governess” or the last, “Cargo of Eagles”. Both are London novels. Also, as Campion is called on to engage with more dangerous antagonists than in "Mystery Mile" and to respond to war-time and post-war espionage, his enigmatic character develops.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 26 October 2000
The second of Allingham's "Campion" books, which begins the development of his character from the fop of "The Crime at Black Dudley" to the serious amateur of the later novels. It starts off with the electrification of a mouse that leads to Campion being called upon to provide a safe haven for an American Judge Lobett from the sinister Simister gang. Local colour and atmosphere, intriguing characters: a good place to start getting to know and love Allingham's insights viewed through Campion's "Everyman". Not overly well paced but nevertheless a good period read, with hints of the wonders to come in "Tiger in the Smoke", especially the darker side of humanity as well as the eccentricities.
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on 7 June 2012
This is Allingham's first book with Campion as the "hero". The story relates the adventures of an American judge and his family who are pursued to the UK by a criminal organisation sworn to kill the judge. On the liner crossing the Atlantic, they encounter Campion, who thwarts an attempt on the judge's life. In London, Campion's help is enlisted by the family and he hides them with friends on the remote Suffolk coast. From then on it's incident after incident, from the suicide of the local vicar, through the mysterious disappearance of the judge, to the kidnapping of one of Campion's friends, and the final scenes where the villain meets a graphic, and gothic, end.

The tale is laden with typical Allingham humour, a fantastic portrayal of England's salt marsh country before we all had cars, and a glimpse of Allingham's pre-Blitz London - so vividly revealed in subsequent novels. Great characters are introduced, Ali Fergusson Barber - the fatuous Turkish art expert, Thos Knapp - former BT telephone engineer gone freelance, and Magersfontein Lugg - Campion's ex-cat-burglar (before he lost his "figger") friend, bodyguard, servant, mentor - you name it - for decades to come. If you are interested in locations, Mystery Mile is based on Mersea Island - actually in Essex, near Colchester - not Suffolk. It's well worth a visit and has a fascinating history going back to pre-Roman times. Bottle Street, where Campion lives, is a fictional street in Mayfair, Central London. Of the restaurants mentioned, Verry's on Regent Street is long gone, but Simpson's in the Strand is still going strong.

Now, a word of warning. If you've never read Allingham before and you get your kicks from guessing whodunnit, this may not be the book for you. I've never read an Allingham book where knowing the identity of the villain spoils the story - this is not Agatha Christie! Allingham is a good writer; she writes pleasing prose, introduces interesting, often fun, characters, can paint a scene with magical dexterity, and her plots are almost always thoughtfully developed. Her books often have twists and puzzles, but the success of the books does not hang on them. Allingham is always a good read - again and again.
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on 1 December 2013
My 2nd Margery Allingham after Crime at Black Dudley, also Ms Allingham's 1st & 2nd in the Albert Campion mysteries.
I enjoyed this book though these early Campion mysteries are pretty lightweight compared to her slightly later output, still very readable though.
In this book we are introduced to Campion's factotum, Lugg, combined servant, assistant, nurse-maid & all-round expert in the ways of the underworld, I'm looking forward to seeing more of him in future books.
The basic premise of this book is that Campion is helping an American judge, Crowdy Lobbett, to hide out from the dangerous Simister gang many of whose members have been sent to jail by Judge Lobbett back in the States. He thinks he has a clue as to the true identity of the shadowy head of the gang & his life is now in jeopardy. Will Campion succeed in keeping the judge safe on a small Suffolk island or will he become another victim of Simister?? You will have fun finding out in this early example of Golden Age crime writing.
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on 20 August 2014
An excellent early Campion that lays the groundwork for some of the later stories, particularly his avoidance of future female attachments, particularly in Look to the Lady, this only really gets resolved in Sweet Danger and The Fashion in Shrouds.

This is one of the attractions of Albert Campion, he grows up from a young and careless individual in the early stories to a somewhat older and perhaps darker person after the Second World War in Hide my eyes etc. This book is pretty well essential reading as it has Campion as a fully formed leading character, unlike The Crime at Black Dudley, where he is more of a supporting character, but does introduce Simisters.
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