I love reading the Campion novels. They are almost like a well-kept secret. Allingham was, apparently, as popular as Christie in her day. Yet she has faded from view now. Even the fabulous 89/90 TV series starring Peter Davison is unremembered by most people.
I decided to re-read the books, staring with this one. It is not the first, or anywhere near the start of the sequence. It was, however, the first one I read. I took it with me on holiday to Germany about 18 years ago. So it was, indeed, due for another outing.
This is an older and wiser Campion. There is also an older, but not necessarily wiser Amanda and this is the start of their romance. The plot is kick-started with the discovery of a skeleton in a dinner jacket and the pace is faster in this one than in some of the more reflective period pieces. It’s also good to see that Campion has a family and here we have his sister Valentine at the centre of events.
Much of the action takes places at ‘Caesar’s Court,’ an expensive resort where bad taste, high couture and new-fangled aviation rub shoulders. It also has enough of its scenes in London for Lugg to, once again, show his formidable presence. At the end, Campion and Amanda’s fake engagement can be called off, leaving them free of each other, if that’s what they want.