Mike Ripley

Mr Campion’s Farewell

""...a welcome addition to the canon of the late Margery Allingham. ""


It is 1969. and Albert Campion, now in his mature years, is visiting the small Suffolk town of Lindsay Carfax, purportedly to visit his artist niece, Eliza Jane Fitton. The real reason for his visit, however, is to investigate, on behalf of Detective Superintendent Charles Luke, the mysterious activities of a group of nine people known as The Carders, who run Lindsay Carfax. He soon discovers there are mysteries aplenty in this once a prosperous wool town. Why does the number 'nine' feature so prominently? Why did the local school teacher Lemuel Walker disappear for nine days, only to return, unwilling to talk about what happened to him? What of the underground tunnels connecting various buildings? What of two archaeology students who were killed, or possibly murdered, in the town while on a dig? And what about the 'Humble Box', invented in the town in the 18th century, and which is supposed to accurately predict the weather?

Campion soon discovers that his snooping isn't appreciated. During a shoot someone deliberately peppers his backside with shot. After spending a few days in hospital, he takes himself off to the safety of his old college in Cambridge, from where he conducts his investigations. He sends his son, Rupert and daughter-in-law Perdita off to Monte Carlo to investigate Lady Prunella Redcar, originally from Lindsay Carfax, and what she is up to.

Everything gradually comes together and Campion returns to the village to reveal the truth of what has been going on.

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This is a genuinely funny book, and a welcome addition to the canon of the late Margery Allingham. It is superbly plotted, and the depiction of Albert Campion as a laid-back, genial soul with a gift for convoluted erudition, is superbly offset by the obvious sharpness and shrewdness of his mind. The plot is ingenious. The identity of the people belonging to the Carders is apparent almost from the start of the book, which detracts in no way from the underlying mystery surrounding the village. Campion's dialogue is laugh-out-loud at times, and his wife's unsympathetic reaction to her husband's various misfortunes is written in such a way that you sense the genuine affection they have for each other. If you are looking for a genuine English village mystery without the usual clich├ęs that accompany the genre, this is for you. Do some of incidents in the book veer towards the highly-unlikely? Yes, they do - and this too, is part of the book's appeal. I loved it.

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