The Crime at Black Dudley by Margery Allingham
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Description: The Black Dudley is an ancient, remote mansion inhabited by recluse, Colonel Combe, but owned by Wyatt Petrie, a young academic who decides to revive his property with a weekend party to which he invites his friends and colleagues. Among the guests in George Abbershaw, a renowned doctor and pathologist who is occasionally summoned by Scotland Yard to help with consulting mysterious deaths. Abbershaw hopes that the leisurely weekend at Black Dudley will help him to get acquainted with red-haired Meggie Oliphant whom he quietly admires. Little does he suspect that instead he will be involved in a series of extraordinary and dangerous incidents which unravel one by one in the gloomy mansion and split the party. (from Amazon)
Why I Picked This Book: I love classic British mysteries but Allingham is one I haven't read much of so when the chance to review the 1st Campion book I couldn't resist!
My Impression: Going in to this one I wasn't quite sure what to expect. While I love classic mysteries they can tend to be a little dry and can be very dated. So I was a little surprised to find that the book pulled me in quickly and the story was fairly fast paced.
The mystery itself was interesting and I did really wonder who the murderer was and why. I found Albert Campion intriguing and an interesting character. In this book he seems more like Agatha Christie's Harley Quinn than an active detective. He does more background work and facilitates Abbershaw's investigation. I don't know if that is standard or if this is just something done at the beginning. There are some hints and clues that Campion isn't quite the silly fool that he seems. He reminded me of Sayer's Peter Wimsey with his almost talking in riddles and frequently acting the fool wen there is considerably more going on but Campion seems less academic and with a more flexible moral compass. I'm definitely curious to see if and how his character develops.
My only problem with this book is that the characters -other than Campion, Abbershaw and Meggie - were very flat. This isn't all that unusual in this kind of mystery but they were so flat that I had a hard time remembering who was who which made the conclusion a little less satisfying.
Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes. I'm quite curious to see where Campion goes from here.
Would I Recommend this Book?: If you enjoy the classic British mysteries this is definitely one to read.