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15
3.8 out of 5 stars
The Mind Readers (Albert Campion)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 7 August 2012
Fans of particular novelists have a tendency to want more of the same. That is why Agatha Christie is the most successful novelist of all time - she realised this and gave readers what they wanted - more of the same old Poirot solving more of the same old upper middle-class murders. Margery Allingham, in her Campion series, never resorted to this formulaic approach, being endlessly inventive and allowing her hero to develop emotionally, intellectually, and philosophically. Developing beyond the simple crime novel, Allingham alienated some of her fan-base and, because fashion plays a large part in book sales, failed to attract new readers. In "The Mind Readers", she successfully mingles a strong science fiction element, spy thriller and a little philosophy, with her usual crime and humour. Very well researched and, in its time, scientifically avant-garde, this book reintroduces Thos T Knapp - now the boss of his own company and building on his prior telephonic expertise to provide state-of-the-art bugging and surveillance services. Readers will remember Thos from Mystery Mile and, in a lesser role, in at least two other Campion novels. Other old friends include Luke, Amanda, Lugg, and Canon Avril (nearly murdered in The Tiger in the Smoke).

Someone discovers that a particular transistor, applied to the jugular area, can amplify the thoughts and emotions of others in such a way that they can be received as a form of ESP. However, the device works best in young children, old enough to understand what is going on, but with relatively uncluttered minds. An 8-year old relative of Amanda'a, and his 12-year old friend and son of a government scientist, have somehow got hold of two of the devices and know how to use them. Allingham's description of how such a thing would affect different people is stunning and, until you think about it, very funny, particularly when Canon Avril and Charles Luke have a go. From this promising start Allingham weaves a very complicated tale involving multi-national skull-duggery, murder, a highly secret government research station, and even includes another highly creepy killer - this time a professional spy.

One reviewer refers to earlier "naive times" when science was thought to be the future. This book isn't in the least like that; in many ways it is very sceptical about science, as indeed is science itself - isn't that what the word implies? Anyway, if the future does not lie with science, we are lost. The alternative is public ignorance combined with self-interest, short-term greed, and superstition. An excellent, thought-provoking novel - what an utter tragedy that Allingham died so relatively young. Who knows where this experiment would have taken Campion!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 22 December 2014
An odd book in many ways and has a creepy feel the whole way through. Although the science is dodgy (to say the least!) when taking into account our 21st century understanding, it is a great thriller and Margery Allingham had a great knack for suspense with humour. You won't find anything this interesting and quirky amongst most modern crime/thriller writing today.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 20 April 2012
Bought this to complete my set of Margery Allingham books but didn't enjoy it at all. Think this is of limited appeal and very disappointing for Allingham fans.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 22 September 2013
Another one for my collection. In good condition. A funny but thought provoking story. Typical of Margery Allingham. Read more of her work
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 23 September 2003
One of Allingham’s few (mercifully few) outstanding failures. The plot is a mess, with a lot of needless complications (all recounted in Allingham’s obscure manner that makes Gladys Mitchell look sober and straightforward) failing to disguise the fact that there is no actual plot to speak of. The murderer is known very early on, revealed and killed some chapters before the end, which is an anti-climax rivalled only by the behaviour of Albert Campion.
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on 22 October 2014
always enjoy the older detective stories like peter wimsey or campion....a good read is the flaxborough chronicles by colin watson
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
This is at times quite a confusing story with a number of story lines not really going anywhere and too many red herring characters. However, it is interesting in the sense that it evokes a much simpler naive age when science was seen as the key to the future. A good read with limited suspense but perhaps only for hardened Allingham fans.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 26 April 2008
Enjoyable Allingham mystery, an improvement on the last. The ending is slightly disappointing as a lot of interesting plot ideas, such as the experiments carried out on the island, seem to end up going nowhere.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 23 August 2009
Far more complicated than all her earlier books and I had to read it twice to enjoy it fully. It was amusing to meet old friends Lugg and Thos and will probably appeal particularly to those who are old Margery Allingham fans.
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on 25 August 2015
Brilliant book - Allingham at her best!
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