Margery Allingham - Police at the Funeral
"‘Police at the Funeral’ is a jolly good romp..."
Great-Aunt Caroline lives in her rambling mansion house in Cambridge which has not changed in decades and appears to be in a Victorian time warp. Several of her children left but ultimately returned to the homestead, wounded by life. Others just didn't leave at all. None of them are particularly pleasant and none of them get on with one another, bickering each and every day. Every Sunday they all go to church. Not because they are religious, but because their mother demands it. She is the lynchpin and she who must be obeyed. Then there is a hideous murder and Campion is asked to investigate. Then there is another murder and it appears that someone is stalking the old corridors of that house with murder in mind.
Allingham is one of those authors you read alongside Christie, Sayers and Marsh as the quartet of crime queens. However, in my case I have only been reading Allingham in recent years. I had watched and enjoyed the Campion series with the wonderful Peter Davison who was sublime as Campion – as well as Julian Glover who was perfect as Lugg. However, it didn't move me to read Allingham's books, until only a few years ago when I read Mike Ripley's, 'Campion's Farewell', which pushed me in Allingham's direction. Now is a great time to discover these authors, especially with the recent resurgence of the Golden Era of crime fiction. I do remember 'Police at the Funeral' being one of the novels they adapted for T.V., but I obviously didn't remember the killer as I got it entirely wrong!
Allingham writes her books with her tongue very much pushed in her cheek. They are not convoluted puzzles like Christie's, although saying that, this one is more of a Christie than other Campion novels. Most are more adventure stories for adults. As always, Campion is an amiable character and not very annoying to be in his presence, and as always there is not enough of Lugg. You have to remember that some of the language used and some of the sayings were accepted back then, whilst today they are frowned upon. These were the days when politically correctness hadn't even been born! 'Police at the Funeral' is a jolly good romp with a pleasing conclusion and one for her fans to re-visit and a good one to embark on if dipping your toe in the Allingham/Campion pond for the first time.
Reviewed by: C.S.