Mr Campion’s Fox

"...‘felt’ more like an original Campion."


As a favour to the Danish ambassador, Campion engages his son, Rupert to follow a Soho photographer, Frank Tate to see what he gets up to. The man has been linked with the ambassador's daughter, Viebeke who is employed as an au pair in a small seaside Suffolk village called Gapton. Tate makes regular trips to see the girl, but are his intentions honest?

Then a murder occurs in the sleepy village where nothing very remarkable ever happens. First Rupert and his actress wife, Perdita arrive to find out more about the murder. It is then proceedings start getting progressively nasty. With spies and smugglers and old deserted W.W.II M.O.D. buildings amongst the dunes still off limits to the locals it is all getting very peculiar, indeed.

That is the moment when Campion and his feisty wife, Lady Amanda literally descend from the heavens and that is when the hornet's nest really is disturbed and starts getting dangerous.

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Here is Mr. Ripley's effort at bringing Campion back for another adventure – although, this time one of his own construction. 'Mr. Campion's Farewell' was grown from a very scant plot outline left by Allingham's husband, Pip Youngman Carter. However, even if the plot is not from the 'Allingham vault', I felt 'Mr Campion's Fox' was a far better romp and if I may be so bold as to say 'felt' more like an original Campion. Due to his age, Campion is more to the side of the stage in this one, handing the main of the story over to his son, Rupert and daughter-in-law, Perdita. Lugg appears more than the last book, but although only a cameo role he is still on hand to dust down Campion when he gets in to a few scrapes. Ripley is superb at characterisation and here introduces the sisters Mister (Marigold and Hyacinth Mister) who are an absolute delight and I hope in some way that we will be reacquainted with them both again. I think I also may be in love with Lady Amanda who adds panache to the proceedings and takes no prisoners. Ripley's portrait of the senior Campions is touching and endearing. At points in the book I did feel as though I was being bombarded with one too many humorous asides, but it didn't detract too much from the story. The conclusion of Ripley's plot could have come straight out of an Allingham book lending it another touch of authenticity. There have been many books carrying on the adventures of a lead detective (the ones featuring Sherlock Holmes are too numerous to count!) and whilst some have been passable, the main have been dire. However, Ripley seems to be channelling Allingham herself and I am sure the great lady would be very pleased her creation has been passed on into such capable hands. I have a feeling that we haven't heard of the last of Albert Campion and company which would be cause for celebration.

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