Hand in hand, they continued carefully down the street, picking their way over the cobbles which were playing havoc with Perdita’s unwise choice of lemon yellow high-heeled shoes. She was at the point of cursing her entire choice of wardrobe – the wispy yellow summer frock… which might have fitted the image of a tourist promenading through Monte Carlo but which made her feel like a clumsy sunflower… It was noticeably cooler now, the twilight coming on quickly, causing Perdita to shiver involuntarily.
‘Remind me, dearest, what exactly are we doing here?’ she sighed.
‘Just looking,’ said Rupert. ‘Just looking and reporting back to the Old Man.’
[later] She kicked off her yellow high heels, picked them up and jammed them in among the bay leaves.
observations: After Margery Allingham died in 1966, her widower Pip Youngman Carter finished one of her Campion books, and produced two more. He then began another, but only fragments were left when he died in 1969. Now present-day crime writer Mike Ripley has ‘completed’ the book: it sounds as though he has created most of it, though he has taken in some aspects from Carter’s other works. He says he has tried to reproduced Carter’s style rather than Allingham’s.
The end result isn’t half bad, even for a devoted Allingham fan (that would be me – see entries on Tiger in the Smoke and Fashion in Shrouds, and for others click on the Allingham label below). Some parts get the authentic magic, and I really liked Campion – now an older man, this is 1969 – getting help from a new generation: his niece, and the characters above are Campion’s grown-up son, Rupert, and his new wife Perdita, sent out as surrogate detectives to Monte Carlo.
The story is a farrago about a small town in Suffolk where a mysterious organization, something like the freemasons but attached to the wool trade, seems to be running things in the background. The air of mystery and threat, but open to another explanation, is very true to the Allingham oeuvre. Are they well-intentioned or dictators? And why is the number 9 so important? And what about the South of France connection and the aged Lady Prunella Redcar? (Strangely no-one ever comments on the fact that she shares her unusual first name with the former wife of the policeman Charlie Luke.) Amanda flits in and out of the book, and Lugg has one small scene. There is a nice section set in Cambridge – St Ignatius’ College, introduced in Police at the Funeral.
One issue – the books in the giftshop cost £5 each, which was an enormous sum of money, almost £65 in terms of modern spending power. For comparison purposes, a new Graham Greene hardback a year or so later would cost £1 10s, less than a third of that.
The picture is from Dovima is Devine, and shows the supermodel Veruschka in 1968, obviously after the shoes have been removed.
The Monte Carlo casino features – we’ve discussed these establishments before, in this entry and this one.