Book Review: The Crime at Black Dudley By Margery Allingham

Plot:

A house party is under way at the remote mansion of Black Dudley, and among the guests are some very shady characters. As they playfully recreate the ritual of the Black Dudley Dagger, someone dies. Pathologist George Abbershaw suspects foul play, and when a vital item is mislaid, a gang of crooks hold the guests hostage. Will they escape the house – what did happen to the Colonel – and just who is the mysterious Mr Campion? Neither the story nor Albert Campion is quite as vapid and slow as you might expect…

Review:

This is my first Margery Allingham and I had high expectations, but this didn’t live up to them.

It starts silly and gets sillier. However, it was also Allingham’s first outing with Albert Campion, so let’s hope she improved. The basic outline of the plot is not bad (I’m being rather generous here) and with more believable characters, less melodrama and fewer secret passages it could have made a good mystery.

As it is, it reads rather like an unfunny spoof of a mystery novel. At the end of chapter 11 we are told that one of the prime suspects is ‘the most dangerous and notorious criminal of modern times’ but he simply doesn’t live up to his reputation, being distinctly half-witted, as far as I can see. The love interest on the side amounts to nothing, as the delightful red-head instantly drops into the hero’s arms as soon as he declares his passion for her; where’s the suspense – or the point?

2/5 Stars

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