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From The Golden Age...
on 9 February 2013
A good little mystery from the Golden Age of crime, when good men were handsome and brave, bad men were weaselly and/or greasy, all murders took place in middle-class country houses, and we women, who knew our place, were very, very silly. As our hero Detective Chief Inspector W.T. Challoner so neatly puts it 'Oh, you women, you women. When will you realise what is important and what is not?' Ah, when indeed?
When a man is murdered in the White Cottage, it turns out that everyone in the household has good reason to want him dead. W.T., ably assisted by his brave, handsome son, Jerry, is stymied as one by one each person can produce an alibi or explain their innocence. The investigation takes them to the South of France where W.T. finally gets the solution while Jerry does his best to get the girl.
The book was first published in 1928 just before Allingham created Campion, who was to become her recurring detective in later books. Allingham was considered to be one of the Queens of Crime, though personally I never found her books to be as satisfactory as those of either Agatha Christie or Ngaio Marsh. While Christie's works have a timeless quality, due in part to better characterisation and a creation of an England which probably never really existed, both Marsh's and Allingham's works seem dated now, although it's fun to see what social attitudes were like back then. Having said that, this is still a very good example of the murder-mystery genre, and I enjoyed it more than I did the later Campion books. It's good to see these classic mysteries getting a new lease of life as eBooks. Recommended.
NB This review is of an electronic proof copy provided by the publisher.