Dancers in Mourning by Margery Allingham Dancers in Mourning by Margery Allingham
Series: Albert Campion #9
Published by Agora Books on January 31, 2019 (first published 1937)
Source: Purchased
Genres: Vintage Mystery
Pages: 308
Format: eBook
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three-half-stars

When entertainer Jimmy Sutane falls victim to a string of malicious practical jokes, there’s only one man who can get to the bottom of the apparent vendetta against the music hall darling—gentleman sleuth Albert Campion. Soon, however, the backstage pranks escalate, and an aging starlet is killed. Under pressure to uncover the culprit and plagued by his growing feelings for Sutane’s wife, Campion finds himself uncomfortably embroiled in an investigation which tests his ingenuity—and integrity—to the limit.

My problem with Dancers in Mourning is that while the plot itself is well-done, Campion is not his usual self. He’s over-emotionally involved and it’s affecting his decisions and involvement with the case.

To start off, Campion visits the theatre with ‘Uncle’ William Faraday, who has found his mostly fictional memoir turned into a hit musical comedy. The star is dancer Jimmy Sutane, who is unsettled by a series of practical jokes and needs Campion’s help. Campion and Faraday head to Sutane’s house, where they meet a group of theater/musical people. Not long after their arrival, another guest is dead, maybe accident, maybe murder, hard to tell. That’s just the first of the deaths, there are three or four more before the killer is found.

Clearly, one of the people in the house is a murderer, and Campion has his suspicions. The problem is that Campion has fallen in love with Sutane’s wife. I wish he hadn’t. First off, he barely knew the woman. Second, it affects his attitude. He pulls away from the people, the house, the case. He does send Lugg, his manservant who is a former burglar, down to help out when Linda’s butler quits. Lugg and the Sutane’s young, often over-looked daughter have a couple of cute scenes. It’s the detectives who keep pulling him back in – he knows the folks, he can help them solve it. But Campion doesn’t really want to solve it.

I liked the end, the reveal of who the killer was. It made sense and was interesting to see how Campion’s feelings had clouded his judgment, not allowed him to see what could have been obvious.

As a mystery, it’s well-done. As a Campion story, it’s not my favorite.

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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