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Another brilliant atmospheric London thriller
on 26 July 2012
There's not a lot of humour in this, nor a lot of Campion for that matter. On the other hand, it is one of the best depictions of utter evil that you could read, augmented by Allingham's brilliant use of atmosphere to draw you into the reality of her world. An unscrupulous killer is on the loose, with a chilling disregard for human life as he implements his criminal plans. After three years, Charlie Luke is half on to him - to the extent that his superiors think he is obsessive. Can he, with Campion's aid, catch the killer before there is more slaughter?
The lack of Campion is easily explained. Our hero is now in his fifties, and, well, one slows down a little! In fact, this book is very much in the style of one of the better modern television police dramas, featuring Charlie Luke rather than, say, Morse. Given her more or less permanent struggle with money, it's a shame Allingham pre-dated her natural genre by some 30 years. Luke would have made a very successful, and lucrative, TV detective. Will you enjoy this? Almost certainly, but, as one reviewer suggests, you will probably get more out of it on a second reading. That, to me, is the essence of Allingham - the writing is so good that subsequent readings will always enrich the initial experience. This is a fine novel, much darker than most of Allingham's previous offerings and the killer makes Havoc in "The Tiger in the Smoke" seem like a misunderstood delinquent!