Marvelous, mysterious Margery Allingham

Street in London

Street in London. Image courtesy of mconners on Morguefile

Move over, Agatha Christie. You’ve got competition.

Reading a mystery is always fun on two levels. You’re transported into the world that the author creates and you have the intellectual challenge of figuring out “Who done it?” With Agatha Christie, determining the villain’s identity is complicated because tricky Agatha withholds some vital clue from the reader. Only Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, Tommy and Tuppence Beresford, or talented amateur detectives figure out the mystery’s solution. You think you know who the villain is, but Agatha surprises you nevertheless.

Margery Allingham isn’t as well-known as Agatha Christie, but she’s an equally good read and her mystery novels are a little easier to figure out. Her main protagonist is a London gentleman named Albert Campion, accompanied by a sidekick/manservant/former thief called Magersfontein Lugg. Campion’s origin is clouded in mystery — he may be descended from royalty — but it’s clear he’s used to moving in both low and high circles. Lugg is a hilarious sidekick who sometimes acts a mournful Greek chorus to Campion’s activities. Villains underestimate Campion because he’s flippant and often speaks what at first appears to be nonsense.  (Shades of The Scarlet Pimpernel! A possible influence?)

So if you’re in the mood to get lost in a mystery, try Margery Allingham’s Look to the Lady, Flowers for the Judge, Dancers in Mourning, Kingdom of Death, or Police at the Funeral. You can also check out the BBC videos of Allingham’s novels, starring Peter Davison (a.k.a. Dr. Who Number 5) as Campion and Brian Glover as Lugg. Below is an excerpt from the BBC’s Police at the Funeral, where Campion discusses a crime with a local student. Enjoy!



Filed under Writing

16 responses to “Marvelous, mysterious Margery Allingham

  1. If you’ve just discovered Margery Allingham, you have many treats in store. I’m her fortunate biographer and if I can offer one piece of advice it’s try reading the novels in the order that she wrote them and you’ll discover how inventive and experimental she was. Happy reading! Julia Jones

    • Wow! Thanks so much for stopping by, Julia. I looked at your website and I was intrigued to note that you were friends with Margery’s sister, Joyce. And what a treat to see the other materials you have regarding the Allingham family!

  2. I have rarely read mysteries, but am now inspired to try one! Thank you.

  3. A pleasure to see you and others discovering Margery. Move over, Agatha Christie indeed! (Actually they’re both great – just different)

  4. Great post! She definitely goes on the summer reading list. Thanks for sharing.

  5. So glad I found your blog. I’m a huge Agatha Christie fan so I’m going to be looking up Margery! Thanks for the tip!!

  6. Makes me cry to be able to read and understand English fiction. Because it’s not my first language, and there’s no good English learning courses available here in Bangladesh, I’ve always missed great English literature. I’ve read some great stuff from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and a handful of others because some local writers have translated their works so beautifully that I felt like reading the original one. I still know that the original piece of writing has some extra thrill which I have been missing so far. I’m also a mystery lover and Sherlock Holmes has always been my favorite.

    A local author has already established a series of hobby investigators (Tin Goyenda — three investigators in Bangla). It’s extremely popular over here. You won’t find many people who didn’t read Tin Goyenda in their teenage years. I’ve learned the name of Agatha from those books. I have been willing to read Agatha but I know I will not understand anything. 😦

    • I hope someone will translate Agatha’s work for you one day. I looked at your blog and for someone who doesn’t speak English as a first language, I think you’re a very good writer! 🙂

      • Ah, that’s just usual ranting you know. Ask me to write fiction or a complex piece of article I’ll suck. 😦 I’ve written four fiction so far and I can’t even translate them on my own. 😦 But before that I want to be able to read and understand English novels. And then maybe I can borrow vocabulary from other great writers. 😉

      • Just keep practicing. Are there any groups in your area where you could practice your English with other people who also want to improve their English? I think the more you talk, read and write in English, the better you’ll become. Good luck, Sajib! 🙂

      • Unfortunately, no. You get some folks at English learning courses, but I’m not yet able to afford those courses (like the one provided by the British Council). But thanks for wishing me. 🙂

      • What about starting up a free group of your own? It doesn’t have to involve Meetup. You could gather together a group of people that want to improve their English and practice with each other. Just a suggestion.

      • Would be great. But I’m not sure how much people will really be able to take some time out for this. But thanks for the suggestion. Let me try on some local forums! 🙂


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