bimo: (Best_of_Timelords)
I'm currently undergoing a "Classic Mystery and Crime" phase, albeit one restricted to a very specific author, the amazing Margery Allingham, who sometimes gets credited as one of the "Four Queens of British Crime" together with Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh and Dorothy L. Sayers.

Perhaps it's Allingham's versatility which makes her stand out as a writer. She is inventive, she is witty, never fails to surprise. Her plots range from classic "Who-Done-It?" over bona fide treasure hunts, romantic melodrams to dark, noirish thrillers. So it's no wonder most people tend to associate Allingham not with her individual novels, but with the enigmatic persona of her favoured hero, upper class sleuth Albert Campion. And if I write enigmatic I mean it, as a great deal of the character's fascinating and at times rather endearing qualities derive from the fact that he always appears to keep the reader at bay.

Solving a large variety of cases, most of them taking place in the English countryside, it is Campion himself who remains the entire book series' largest puzzle. Allingham is wonderful at dropping hints and revealing her hero piece by piece.Background, family, the at times rather screwed-up love life.Over the course of the novels, the character grows and changes. First introduced as a somewhat distant, but otherwise perfectly self-confident adventurer, who hides his razor-sharp mind behind silly jokes, blank expression and affable manner, Campion becomes increasingly affected by the things that happen to him.Gets older, more reluctant, painfully aware of his own failures and isolation.

It's fascinating to witness this transition from formulaic hero to character.

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