The Crime at Black Dudley by Margery AllinghamThe Crime at Black Dudley by Margery Allingham
Narrator: David Thorpe
Series: Albert Campion #1
Published by Audible Studios on February 14, 2013 (first published 1929)
Source: Purchased
Genres: Vintage Mystery
Length: 7 hrs 33 mins
Format: Audiobook
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George Abbershaw is set for a social weekend at Black Dudley manor, hosted by Wyatt Petrie and his elderly uncle Colonel Combe, who enjoys the company of Bright Young Things. With Meggie Oliphant in attendance, George looks forward to the chance of getting closer to the girl he's set his heart on. But when murder spoils the party, the group soon find out that not only is there a killer in their midst, but the house is also under the control of notorious criminals. Trapped and at their mercy, George must find a way to thwart their diabolical plans while getting himself and Meggie out alive.

Luckily for Abbershaw, among the guests is Albert Campion--a garrulous and affable party-crasher with a great knack for solving mysteries and interrogating suspects.

I knew going in that The Crime at Black Dudley is not the best of Allingham’s
Albert Campion series, but it’s the first even if he is only a minor character, and if you can start a series at the beginning, why not? Allingham, along with Christie, Sayers, and Marsh, is one of the “Queens of Crime,” the only one I hadn’t read. I love Christie and Marsh, couldn’t care less about Sayers, and am undecided on Allingham.

We’ve got a country house party with an odd assortment of guests. And then somebody’s killed, but then it kind of runs amok and the younger set of guests, in their 20’s give or take, are held hostage by a batch of criminals, and they need to escape before they end up dead. I’m not a big fan of the international gang type of mysteries. I want smaller mysteries if that makes sense, not ones that could have CONSEQUENCES. It all just seemed a little muddy. Let’s throw in as many different bits and pieces as we can: house party, dagger ceremony, international criminals, hidden passages, romance subplot.

Our amateur detective is Dr. George Abbershaw, a pathologist who is a member of the party, along with the young woman he has a crush on. We’ve got a bit of a romance, but it doesn’t get in the way of the plot, just gives Abbershaw more of a motive to be the hero. He’s not a very colorful character though, so it’s just as well that Campion steals the show and becomes the series lead. Campion is an uninvited guest at the house, which puts him under a bit of suspicion. I listened to the audio and appreciated that the narrator used a higher pitched, slightly annoying voice for Campion, since it fits the descriptions well. He can be annoyingly clever and just annoying.

The Crime at Black Dudley is an interesting start to a series, since the eventual main character is just a supporting player. I’ll have to read more to know if I actually like him or not.

About Margery Allingham

Margery Allingham

Margery Louise Allingham (May 20, 1904 – June 30, 1966) was born in Ealing, London to a family of writers. Her father, Herbert John Allingham, was editor of The Christian Globe and The New London Journal, while her mother wrote stories for women’s magazines. Margery’s aunt, Maud Hughes, also ran a magazine. Margery earned her first fee at the age of eight, for a story printed in her aunt’s magazine.

Soon after Margery’s birth, the family left London for Essex. She returned to London in 1920 to attend the Regent Street Polytechnic (now the University of Westminster) and met her future husband, Philip Youngman Carter. They married in 1928. He was her collaborator and designed the cover jackets for many of her books.

Margery’s breakthrough came 1929 with the publication of her second novel, The Crime at Black Dudley. The novel introduced Albert Campion, although only as a minor character. After pressure from her American publishers, Margery brought Campion back for Mystery Mile and continued to use Campion as a character throughout her career.


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