blank'/> Clothes In Books: Mr Campion’s Farewell by Mike Ripley

Friday, 25 April 2014

Mr Campion’s Farewell by Mike Ripley

featuring Margery Allingham’s series detective

published 2014






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.

20 comments:

  1. I should point out, that aside from being an unusual name, Prunella is a type of worsted wool fabric with a satiny finish that was used for women's shoes in the 19th century. I presume that it was named after someone, like Henrietta, a similar fabric in the same class of goods. I was all for naming my dog "Prunella Buskin" after an entry in a Victorian mail-order catalogue but somehow got out-voted on that one. But if I ever write a detective novel with a lady steam-punk detective...

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    1. That's fascinating, I'd never heard of that. And 'Prunella Buskin' is the best name ever.

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  2. Moira - You know, I wasn't sure whether I would read this or not. I'll confess to being a purist when it comes to this sort of thing. I like the original work by the original author. But I'm very glad you thought this was enjoyable. I may yet try it...

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    1. Rich at Past Offences is to blame. I tend to avoid re-treads, but his review of this tempted me. And now I'm tempting you...

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  3. Campion ages, but Lugg is ageless, MA made that clear! Want to reread Youngman Carter's other books now. Cargo of Eagles is amazing, and I seem to remember "Farthing" is not bad, with someone going to ground in a hotel like Hedda Hopper's old home in Dungeness.

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    1. I read Cargo years ago and can remember almost nothing about it. I feel an MA re-reading jag coming on, with the add-ons for completism. 'Hedda Hopper's old home in Dungeness' is not a phrase that often meets the eye...

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  4. Moira: What a striking photo. It looks like it was taken in the Badlands of Western North America. She is a beautiful sunflower. They exactly are that shade of yellow.

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    1. Thanks Bill, I thought it was a great picture too. I don't know where it was taken but I'd guess you are right.

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  5. I have the one Allingham book - Tiger in the Smoke - recently acquired. Plus I have some Ripley Angel books at home somewhere - so I have kind of covered this sort of-ish, if I ever read either.

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    1. I think you're quite right, go with the ones you've got for now. Then if you really like either of them you can look this one out...(In fact I got it from NetGalley, I shouldn't tell you that should it, temptation...)

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  6. Great post as always but nothing will convince me to read one of these 're-treads' (love that term by the way). I adore Douglas Adams and like Eoin Colfer's work but even so I couldn't read the book he wrote that continued Adams' series. I was given two copies as gifts and they sat here for a couple of years then I gave them away untouched. It just felt wrong.

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    1. Bernadette I know exactly what you mean, I often feel as you do. I decided to give this one a chance because of the fact that her husband had carried on the tradition somewhat. I am always surprised that very respectable authors are willing to do it - you'd think they'd be more keen on doing their own work.

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  7. Looking forward to reading this soonish. I also want to read the Youngman Carter books... not sure if I read them earlier or not.

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    1. I think I might be going to re-read the whole oeuvre, so would eventually get on to the Youngman Carter books. I have read at least one, but not sure about others. I need a proper list.

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  8. I had to look up farrago. now that I know the meaning I'm amazed I haven't needed this word to describe my house/life/knicker drawer.
    Thanks for the education.

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    1. You made me laugh out loud - I can't believe you really need this word, but it is a good one isn't it?

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  9. Just reading this one now and I must admit, the price of the book did pull mne up short too - I know it was meant to be a bit steep but ...

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    1. I'm glad it wasn't just me - it stuck out when the rest of the book seemed quite accurate. I'll be really interested to know what you think of the book (apart from that!) Sergio, I assume it will tip up on the blog....

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    2. Tomorrow in fact - I must say, the PR company has been working very hard with this title, which I find heartening for a traditional mystery in this day and age.

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    3. Yes I agree. Look forward to reading your review.

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