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Death of a Ghost

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John Sebastian Lafcadio, is one of the greatest painters of the Edwardian period, and his ambition to be known as the greatest painter since Rembrandt was not to be thwarted by a matter as trifling as his own death. Lafcadio was not only a brilliantly talented, it appears, a bit psychic: Certain that his reputation would improve dramatically after his death, he left aset o John Sebastian Lafcadio, is one of the greatest painters of the Edwardian period, and his ambition to be known as the greatest painter since Rembrandt was not to be thwarted by a matter as trifling as his own death. Lafcadio was not only a brilliantly talented, it appears, a bit psychic: Certain that his reputation would improve dramatically after his death, he left aset of twelve sealed paintings with his agent, along with the instruction that her widow should wait a suitable interval and then begin doling out the work to a newly ravenous public at the rate of one per year. Lafcadio's widow unveil the eighth canvas to a carefully selected audience. Albert Campion, an old friend of the widow's, is among the cast of gadabouts, muses and socialites gathered for the latest ceremony. The event is a success for all but one of the attendees--a young artist who is brutally stabbed while others are sipping champagne. The art is the last thing on the sleuth's mind whenl the wife of another painter is poisoned. The first killing took place at a crowded art show, in full view of the cream of London society. For the second killing, only the victim and the murderer were present. The first killing took place at a crowded art show, in full view of the cream of London society. For the second killing, only the victim and the murderer were present. Now the scene was set for the third--a lavish dinner party with vintage wines, and with Albert Campion's death as the main course. Mr. Campion must employ all his tact as well as his formidable intelligence to trap the killer, and dodge death.


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John Sebastian Lafcadio, is one of the greatest painters of the Edwardian period, and his ambition to be known as the greatest painter since Rembrandt was not to be thwarted by a matter as trifling as his own death. Lafcadio was not only a brilliantly talented, it appears, a bit psychic: Certain that his reputation would improve dramatically after his death, he left aset o John Sebastian Lafcadio, is one of the greatest painters of the Edwardian period, and his ambition to be known as the greatest painter since Rembrandt was not to be thwarted by a matter as trifling as his own death. Lafcadio was not only a brilliantly talented, it appears, a bit psychic: Certain that his reputation would improve dramatically after his death, he left aset of twelve sealed paintings with his agent, along with the instruction that her widow should wait a suitable interval and then begin doling out the work to a newly ravenous public at the rate of one per year. Lafcadio's widow unveil the eighth canvas to a carefully selected audience. Albert Campion, an old friend of the widow's, is among the cast of gadabouts, muses and socialites gathered for the latest ceremony. The event is a success for all but one of the attendees--a young artist who is brutally stabbed while others are sipping champagne. The art is the last thing on the sleuth's mind whenl the wife of another painter is poisoned. The first killing took place at a crowded art show, in full view of the cream of London society. For the second killing, only the victim and the murderer were present. The first killing took place at a crowded art show, in full view of the cream of London society. For the second killing, only the victim and the murderer were present. Now the scene was set for the third--a lavish dinner party with vintage wines, and with Albert Campion's death as the main course. Mr. Campion must employ all his tact as well as his formidable intelligence to trap the killer, and dodge death.

30 review for Death of a Ghost

  1. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    I have been slowly reading my way through the Albert Campion books, with somewhat mixed feelings. Although I am a lover of Golden Age mysteries, I have struggled with this series so far. However, I was pleased to find that this, the sixth book featuring Campion, first published in 1934, is much more of a typical crime story than some of the others I have read so far, which seem to rely on the supernatural, or criminal fraternities. Campion is at the house of Belle Lafcadio, widow of the famous ar I have been slowly reading my way through the Albert Campion books, with somewhat mixed feelings. Although I am a lover of Golden Age mysteries, I have struggled with this series so far. However, I was pleased to find that this, the sixth book featuring Campion, first published in 1934, is much more of a typical crime story than some of the others I have read so far, which seem to rely on the supernatural, or criminal fraternities. Campion is at the house of Belle Lafcadio, widow of the famous artist, John Lafcadio. Lafcadio had left several sealed paintings, to be revealed annually, for some years after his death. At this annual event, there is a murder, and, of course, Campion becomes involved in the investigation. When there is another death, he realises who the murderer is – the problem is, that he has no proof. Oddly, this novel highlights the fact that the police, in this case, in the form of Scotland Yard man, Stanislaus Oates; while excellent at solving crimes, are less adept at preventing them. Although Campion knows who the murderer is, unless, or until, they act again, the police hands are tied. As such, you are involved with Campion and his attempts to prove his case. I liked this more traditional crime story and I will admit (however unpopular this will be) that I was pleased that the story did not involve Lugg, or any of the other rather, over the top, characters, that normally populate the pages of the Campion novels. Instead, we have a closed cast of characters, many with motives, and Allingham deftly makes the beginning of the book a typical mystery and the later part of the book a duel between Campion and the criminal. Definitely, to my mind, one of the most enjoyable books in the series so far.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Bruce Beckham

    This is an excellent traditional British mystery. The first aspect that struck me was the quality of the writing – I read it on the back of an Agatha Christie and, much as I love the ‘Queen of Crime’, when it comes to ‘wordsmithery’ Margery Allingham reigns supreme. The setting is 1930s high society – the London art scene, interestingly and convincingly portrayed – and the hero the self-effacing, bespectacled, aristocratic private detective, Albert Campion. It is hard not to like him. The plot is c This is an excellent traditional British mystery. The first aspect that struck me was the quality of the writing – I read it on the back of an Agatha Christie and, much as I love the ‘Queen of Crime’, when it comes to ‘wordsmithery’ Margery Allingham reigns supreme. The setting is 1930s high society – the London art scene, interestingly and convincingly portrayed – and the hero the self-effacing, bespectacled, aristocratic private detective, Albert Campion. It is hard not to like him. The plot is cleverly double-layered. First, there is the unmasking of the serial murderer (successfully so, by Campion); second there is the catching red-handed of said killer (not so successfully, by Campion). Indeed, as the novel reaches its climax, it looks like dearest Albert has met his match. Criticisms? I’m glad I read rather than listened to this one, because I had to refer back at times (eventually I made some notes in the cover). In the same principal house reside four females – Lisa, Linda, Belle and Donna – I couldn’t for the life of me get them sorted out. There were also one or two curious interventions by the narrator, but these were restricted to the early part of the story. It has always struck me as a flaw of the past tense; personally I would find it impossible not to spill the beans at the outset! I was always pleased to pick up this book, and sorry to see it returned to the shelf. Well worth reading, I would say.

  3. 4 out of 5

    John

    In order to spite his arch-rival Tanqueray, the painter John Lafcadio left a collection of paintings with his agent, Salmon & Co., with the strict instructions to hold onto them for a decade and then release them, one by one, at annual special showings; he reckoned that his death would increase demand for his work, and that the strategy would give Tanqueray an annual posthumous reminder that Lafcadio was the artist the public and the connoisseurs preferred. In fact, Tanqueray died before that ini In order to spite his arch-rival Tanqueray, the painter John Lafcadio left a collection of paintings with his agent, Salmon & Co., with the strict instructions to hold onto them for a decade and then release them, one by one, at annual special showings; he reckoned that his death would increase demand for his work, and that the strategy would give Tanqueray an annual posthumous reminder that Lafcadio was the artist the public and the connoisseurs preferred. In fact, Tanqueray died before that initial decade was up, but Lafcadio's widow, Belle, and the inheritor of the Salmon agency, Max Fustian, continue the tradition of the annual viewing of a newly revealed Lafcadio work. As a much younger friend of Belle's, Albert Campion is present at the latest showing. During the traditional drinking of the sour wine, the eating of the curling cruditees and the chattering to people you'd normally avoid and anyway can't hear properly because of the yammer, the lights go out. When they're restored there lies on the floor -- stabbed through the heart with a pair of ornamental scissors -- Dacre, a protege of Lafcadio's and assumed fiance of Lafcadio's granddaughter Linda. The cops descend in the shape of Campion's old buddy, Inspector Stanislaus Oates of the Yard (this novel predated the bursting onto the scene of Charlie Luke as Allingham's preferred cop). Between them, Oates and Campion get absolutely nowhere. But then there's a second death in the sprawling Lafcadio household -- Claire, the managerial wife of one of Lafcadio's old hangers-on, is found dead of what could have been a heart attack but proves on autopsy to have been poisoning by nicotinic acid -- and this time Campion knows, with a certainty that outstrips any evidence he might possess, who the culprit is -- and thus probably the perpetrator of the first killing, too. Oates agrees with Campion's hypothesis, but the murder of Claire has been so carefully orchestrated that there's no way either man can bring the killer to justice using conventional means. Campion even considers -- especially when he realizes the danger that Belle and Linda might be in -- simply taking justice into his own hands, whatever the price he might have to pay. Being a civilized human being, however, he instead maneuvers himself into position as the person the murderer might be best advised next to kill in the attempt to cover up the dirty little secret that lies at the core of the plot . . . This is a terrific thriller. Allingham wrote some splendid mysteries, but I've come to the conclusion that her thrillers -- like this novel, Traitor's Purse and of course The Tiger in the Smoke -- show her at her best. I think she probably achieved this through her deft ability to portray character: I last read Death of a Ghost perhaps forty years ago, so obviously remembered very little of the plot, but I did recall the characters -- notably Belle, Max Fustian and Linda (who I thought and still think is red-hot -- an aesthetic conclusion with which Campion evidently agrees). There are also, to be honest, some fairly easy, almost cheap, bits of characterization going on: household hanger-on Donna Beatrice, an old model of Lafcadio's, pretentiously full, Blavatsky-style, of the need to understand the Higher Consciousness and open one's aura to the mystic ways of the universe ("Donna Beatrice’s greeting was more sensational and Campion remembered with sudden satisfaction that her real name was Harriet Pickering."); Rosa-Rosa, the empty-headed yet ravishingly lovely model, who readily delivers herself of obscenities and the most remarkable gestures, whom Dacre met in Rome and whom he married in order to be able to bring home to the UK with him -- despite his supposed engagement to Linda. (Dacre, by the way, suggested that he, Linda and Rosa-Rosa should get a house together and live there in a menage-a-trois. Linda tells Campion she rejected this not on any moral grounds or even theoretical disinclination, but simply because the work Dacre had now started to produce was more chocolate-box than art: no way would she live with an artist who'd prostituted himself like this. Allingham's social attitudes were way ahead of their era. She could also be adolescently smutty at times. A ramshackle cottage in the middle of nowhere where Dacre did some of his painting is evocatively called Spendpenny.) As for Campion himself, we're still, in vol. 6 of the series, stuck with the common Golden Age trope of him being a member of the aristocracy -- in his case pseudonymous, to keep his true identity secret -- who's philanthropically working beneath himself by solving crimes and acting as a sort of universal uncle to those in distress. He retains some of the deceptive vacuity that was Wimsey's stock-in-trade, but for the most part that's toned down a bit and, overall, he's become a plausible human being. Even in the early novels Campion was a far more real and likeable person than caricatures like Wimsey; by now he's become, perhaps because of the fallibility he displays here, a well rounded character. With the villain being revealed early on, the drive of the novel comes from the attempt by Oates and Campion -- especially the latter -- to tease out the motivation. Allingham handles this very adroitly. The book's title is a bit of a giveaway for part of it, but I think we'd all have worked that bit out even without the clue. Besides, that's hardly the point. The crux of the novel is that Campion is confronted by an ingenious villain who's perhaps at least as intelligent as he is, and who holds most if not all of the cards. The later stages of the novel, in which Campion is a piece of prey there for the taking as he flees through London streets, are absolutely nail-biting. This is a thriller whose central dynamic is artificial: then and now, Scotland Yard detectives don't much welcome, far less encourage, the contributions of amateurs in the murder cases they're attempting to solve. (A few months ago I was writing about the efforts of self-styled psychic detectives, and the extent to which in general the cops privately hold these amateur meddlers in contempt was was very evident.) Of course, we're supposed to believe at face value that Lestrade, albeit reluctantly, welcomed the efforts of Holmes, Japp, albeit reluctantly, welcomed the efforts of Poirot, and so on. Allingham chooses here to acknowledge the artificiality and, in effect, to tell us we simply have to accept it if we want to read on: The Inspector never knew quite why he always invited the pale young man to accompany him on this sort of expedition in defiance of edict and etiquette alike, but the fact remained, and so did Mr Campion. I can't recall ever coming away from a Campion novel with the feeling that Allingtham had failed to deliver. Death of a Ghost is no exception, and it may be one of her best. ===== This is a contribution toward Rich Westwood’s “Crimes of the Century” feature on his Past Offences blog. The year chosen for consideration in June 2015 is 1934.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lance Greenfield

    This book is OK, as far as it goes. It is a thirties crime mystery based around a posh family and their connections, and almost everyone is connected with the art world in some way. The initial murder, there are more to come, takes place early on during the first viewing of one of the paintings which has been left by a famous artist to be revealed at the rate of one per year. Some of the characters are so appalling, that I woud have loved to have leapt into the pages of my book and killed them of This book is OK, as far as it goes. It is a thirties crime mystery based around a posh family and their connections, and almost everyone is connected with the art world in some way. The initial murder, there are more to come, takes place early on during the first viewing of one of the paintings which has been left by a famous artist to be revealed at the rate of one per year. Some of the characters are so appalling, that I woud have loved to have leapt into the pages of my book and killed them off myself. When I say "appalling," I don't mean that they are badly written, quite the contrary, but they are just people that I wouldn't ever want anywhere near me. So that is good writing, is it not? The main policeman in the plot is just so straight and humourless, and appears to lack the wit to outsmart a slug on the garden fence, never mind a dangerous criminal. Campion also lacks humour. He is such a serious man who happens to be on the scene due to his long-standing connection with the widow. To me, he seemed to be rather slow in picking up the clues and sorting out the motive and the killer, but I suppose that prolongs the ending. It may seem a strange thing to say about a story which revolves around the art world, but I got irritated by the amount of art talk and technicalities in this book. Others may love that, but it was not for me. In summary, the book was OK, I don't regret reading it, but there are many other books out there that I should prefer to read ahead of another Campion mystery.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mir

    This is one of those not-actually-mysterious mysteries where the identity of the culprit is clear quite early on, to the detective as well as the reader, and the remainder of the story is the protagonist attempting to collect proof. Sometimes this works fine, especially if it is handled in a suspenseful way. In this case even the police are convinced, but seem unable to think of any course of action. Campion is particularly ineffectual in this installment, perhaps a reaction on the author's part This is one of those not-actually-mysterious mysteries where the identity of the culprit is clear quite early on, to the detective as well as the reader, and the remainder of the story is the protagonist attempting to collect proof. Sometimes this works fine, especially if it is handled in a suspenseful way. In this case even the police are convinced, but seem unable to think of any course of action. Campion is particularly ineffectual in this installment, perhaps a reaction on the author's part to swinging too far in the action-hero direction in the previous book. I wasn't convinced that the killer was really that diabolically clever and found the resolution disappointing and weak. However, I did like the opening set-up with the artists and critics at the mildly Bohemian house party and the descriptions of the art. The supporting characters were a bit over the top but at least interesting.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    Allingham veers here into character study, telling us who the murderer is halfway through the novel, and then setting Campion to trying to find a way to stop a clever killer who is smart enough to get away with it. The story itself represents a shift in Campion's character from deceptively fatuous young adventurer with a strong sense of fun to self-styled 'universal uncle' (a transition he began in the previous volume, where Campion is noted to be in his early thirties). Unfortunately, in this boo Allingham veers here into character study, telling us who the murderer is halfway through the novel, and then setting Campion to trying to find a way to stop a clever killer who is smart enough to get away with it. The story itself represents a shift in Campion's character from deceptively fatuous young adventurer with a strong sense of fun to self-styled 'universal uncle' (a transition he began in the previous volume, where Campion is noted to be in his early thirties). Unfortunately, in this book, Campion's interpretation of 'uncle' involves a lot of gaslighting of Linda, instead of treating her with any real regard for her opinion. There's one particular scene where Campion is dismissing almost everything Linda is saying, and doesn't come around until she's backed up by a man. Not a good book to start this series, in other words: it doesn't give a good impression of Campion at all.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Carmen

    The real attack lay somewhere in the Cantonetti. Campion wished he could remember. The whole of the restaurant had become indistinct. He was aware of vast planes of misty, chattering ghosts to whom, he supposed fatuously, he was as invisible as they to him.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Bex

    Detective fiction isn't a genre that I ever usually reach for - this was a text for uni - and I doubt I'll be reading much of it in the future. The story was interesting enough, but I just didn't find it all that memorable. Detective fiction isn't a genre that I ever usually reach for - this was a text for uni - and I doubt I'll be reading much of it in the future. The story was interesting enough, but I just didn't find it all that memorable.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Leah

    I really just don't like Allingham - I find her a complete chore to read. This was the bonus book for my Georgette Heyer book club and I gave it a good try, but my god every page was a slog. Half a page of introspective description for every sentence spoken by a character! I really just don't like Allingham - I find her a complete chore to read. This was the bonus book for my Georgette Heyer book club and I gave it a good try, but my god every page was a slog. Half a page of introspective description for every sentence spoken by a character!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Deb Jones

    Albert Campion finds himself immersed in the art world when his visit to the widow of a larger-than-life painter involves him in first one murder, then another -- and yet another on the horizon if Scotland Yard and/or Campion can't stop the shrewd villain. Albert Campion finds himself immersed in the art world when his visit to the widow of a larger-than-life painter involves him in first one murder, then another -- and yet another on the horizon if Scotland Yard and/or Campion can't stop the shrewd villain.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kerry

    Famous artist John Lafcadio might have been dead for thirteen years, but that doesn't stop him from being able to cause a good stir. Before his death, he completed 12 paintings and left instructions that they were to be revealed, starting five years after his death, one a year until all the sealed crates had been opened and his masterpieces were available to the world. Albert Campion comes to visit Lafcadio's widow, Belle, just before the eighth painting has been shown and, being a friend, is in Famous artist John Lafcadio might have been dead for thirteen years, but that doesn't stop him from being able to cause a good stir. Before his death, he completed 12 paintings and left instructions that they were to be revealed, starting five years after his death, one a year until all the sealed crates had been opened and his masterpieces were available to the world. Albert Campion comes to visit Lafcadio's widow, Belle, just before the eighth painting has been shown and, being a friend, is invited to the unveiling. All appears to go well and the painting - Joan of Arc - is revealed as planned, turned into a spectacle and overseen as usual by Lafcadio's agent, Max Faustian. Things go awry when the lights go out. Once the power is restored Tommy Dacre, Lafcardio's grand-daughter's fiance, is found stabbed to death with a pair of ornate scissors. Campion soon finds himself investigating not only Dacre's murder, but a series of other odd events, another death and, ultimately, finds himself almost losing his life when he underestimates the murderer. This book is not so much a "whodunnit" as a "prove-hedunnit". Campion figures out the identity of the murderer early and there are plenty enough clues for the reader to do the same. The killer is clever, slick, supremely self-confident and just a little bit insane. Campion's attempts to first unmask, then stop the killer are stymied every step of the way and for a while there it looks like he might be the final victim. It is luck and back up from his friends that saves him this time, not his own intellect. This is a very different book that I liked and was unsure about, both at the same time. It is a departure for the usual crime-solving adventure and I'm of two minds about whether or not it works. Certainly, some early strange events (such as the disappearance of all Dacre's works) finally make sense when the killer's motives are revealed and it is all very clever. But the pacing felt kind of wrong to be, although I think that was mostly because Allingham had things happen in a different order than usual. Here, the basic story line went murder, suspicion, discovery of murderer, discover of murderer's motives, plan to stop murderer, failure of said plan, resolution by Hand of God. Campion didn't really take over this story, he just struggled to keep up with other characters, and I think that was probably the source of my dissatisfaction. That and the ultimate fate of the murderer, which seemed like a cop out to me. Not one of Allingham's best, although we meet some lovely characters such as Belle and her grand-daughter Linda and get a chance to see inside the artist's life of the time. I still enjoyed the story, but it won't be first on my list of Campion books to reread. If you only want to read one, pick a different one. If you already know you like the series, this is still a good, solid addition it and I suggest you read it. After all, drunk Campion at the end of the book is a total delight. (I'm told it is in the Peter Davison TV adaptions as well, although I haven't seen them.) [Copied across from Library Thing; 25 September 2012]

  12. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    Does this title, that of the sixth Albert Campion book, refer to the ghost of John Lafcadio, the artist whose cheeky attempt to gain immortality and get one over on his rivals, has far-reaching consequences for his family and friends? Each year, starting in the eleventh year after his death, one of twelve paintings is to be revealed and put on sale on the Sunday before the annual Academy Exhibition. The book opens on the day number eight is to be unveiled at his house in Little Venice.Assembled Does this title, that of the sixth Albert Campion book, refer to the ghost of John Lafcadio, the artist whose cheeky attempt to gain immortality and get one over on his rivals, has far-reaching consequences for his family and friends? Each year, starting in the eleventh year after his death, one of twelve paintings is to be revealed and put on sale on the Sunday before the annual Academy Exhibition. The book opens on the day number eight is to be unveiled at his house in Little Venice.Assembled is a cast consisting of Belle, the artist’s widow, their granddaughter, two former models, Max Fustian, an art dealer, and various artists, models and notabilities including Campion. The first murder is carried out in the darkness ensuing from Belle’s failure to put money in the electricity meter. Why and by whom was artist Tommy Dacre murdered so opportunistically? A fantastic confession is made and its maker ruled out by Inspector Stanislaus Oates The police investigation peters out in the face of official discouragement. but Campion persists and, not long after this reader, correctly identifies the murderer. From then on, around 40% into the story, this is effectively an inverted mystery. We know the murderer but not the why and the who-else, since Allingham clearly indicates there will be more murder. Campion and the police must try to assemble a case whose proofs will stand up in court. The case ends with a thrilling nightmare journey at the conclusion of which a resolution is reached. The Allingham magic here is in creating, yet again, a small, rather strange community peopled by some rather oddly believable characters.We may not like many of them and feel little sympathy for or empathy with them, but they all come alive, from the ludicrous Donna Beatrice to the pathetic Potters, from the fantastically mephistophelian and vainglorious Max, to practical Linda. This is the Allingham which will most divide readers’ opinions.The first time I read it, I found it unappealing and unsatisfactory. This time I loved it. The characters are colourful in every sense.The artistic background is meticulous - is Pip Youngman Carter’s hand to be seen here? The plot is ingenious and the structure appropriately Gothic. Only the fate of the murderer disappoints but the final chapter rounds off nicely what is, to me, one of the best of the earlier Campions. Thank you to the Allingham estate for the review copy.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Oakes

    I'm most eager to see how this installment of the Campion series translates to screen; my DVD should be coming today. Definitely NOT up there with the previous entries into the Campion series; here he just sort of comes in and out until the very end; none of the banter that helps to define who he is. Without checking it out to see why, my guess is that Mr. Campion is coming into his own, without the witty banter & silliness from the past, he's becoming more serious & the series is most likely ta I'm most eager to see how this installment of the Campion series translates to screen; my DVD should be coming today. Definitely NOT up there with the previous entries into the Campion series; here he just sort of comes in and out until the very end; none of the banter that helps to define who he is. Without checking it out to see why, my guess is that Mr. Campion is coming into his own, without the witty banter & silliness from the past, he's becoming more serious & the series is most likely taking a new turn. I wouldn't have minded that so much, but, well, it was such an abrupt change from Campion in The Fear Sign to the "new" Campion...personally, (imho) maybe there should have been a bridge somewhere between the two so the reader's prepared for what's coming. The action takes place within the realm of the art world; Campion is invited to a release of one of several paintings done by an artist who is now dead, and whose works were to be released one every year until they were gone to keep his name and work in the public. Sadly, there is a death at a reception afterwards, shortly followed by another. Campion knows who did it, and also knows he can't produce any evidence to prove so. It's just a matter of waiting him out, but this may not be easy. It will take me some time to get used to the new Campion, since I really loved the old one! Other than that, the book was okay, not one of her best, most definitely.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Adam Carson

    I’m reading through the Campion books in order and this one is certainly a different beast than the ones that came before it. Campion almost comes across as a different character, far less cocky, far less cheek and more human fallibility. Allingham herself clearly thought this too, as she felt the need to write an introduction near enough saying as much! All that said, I did really enjoy this book -it’s much more of a traditional whodunnit than anything I’ve read from Allingham before. It feels v I’m reading through the Campion books in order and this one is certainly a different beast than the ones that came before it. Campion almost comes across as a different character, far less cocky, far less cheek and more human fallibility. Allingham herself clearly thought this too, as she felt the need to write an introduction near enough saying as much! All that said, I did really enjoy this book -it’s much more of a traditional whodunnit than anything I’ve read from Allingham before. It feels very ‘real’ - they know their killer and are out to prove it, with the challenges of shortcomings in evidence and all. I was a little let down by the ending - the massive drunken campion crescendo was great, but making the killer a lunatic felt like a bit of a cop out!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Teri-K

    This book is full of self-centered, whiny people who lie and cheat on each other. Campion doesn't actually do anything except listen to people complain and tell the investigating officer that all his ideas are wrong. Half way through the book we find out who did it in a very clever way, but as Campion has no plan for unmasking the perpetrator, it's just more waiting around. I really didn't like this book - can you tell? What a pity, since the previous one was lots of fun. This book is full of self-centered, whiny people who lie and cheat on each other. Campion doesn't actually do anything except listen to people complain and tell the investigating officer that all his ideas are wrong. Half way through the book we find out who did it in a very clever way, but as Campion has no plan for unmasking the perpetrator, it's just more waiting around. I really didn't like this book - can you tell? What a pity, since the previous one was lots of fun.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Doug

    A somewhat confusing introductory section dealing with art and a dead painter and his widow (and other various hangers-on) eventually gives way to an interesting, enjoyable, and increasingly tense narrative that unfortunately collapses in the last three or four chapters into an unsatisfactory conclusion: featuring, as it were, a potent mega-wine ripe for pranking your society brothers and the literary equivalent of tossing in the towel rather than solve everything fully. The latter being especia A somewhat confusing introductory section dealing with art and a dead painter and his widow (and other various hangers-on) eventually gives way to an interesting, enjoyable, and increasingly tense narrative that unfortunately collapses in the last three or four chapters into an unsatisfactory conclusion: featuring, as it were, a potent mega-wine ripe for pranking your society brothers and the literary equivalent of tossing in the towel rather than solve everything fully. The latter being especially problematic because though the killer is known relatively early, the catching the killer and making it stick part was the actual mystery, an aspect effectively not solved even though things "work out". The goods are really good and the bads tend to not bother me too much (the cop-out does, but I can live with it). Parts that are a bit overwrought—such as the brief deep-dives into the art world and its lingo and modes—actually become interesting in their own way. I can only guess they are anything like accurate: they seem accurate enough. Like many of the novels from this era, an era that supposedly was setting "the Rules" down for mystery, the fun here is often in the subversion of the Rules: the foreshadowing of death, the known killer, the force-of-will main mystery-solver that is also a little bit of a parody of force-of-will mystery-solvers (Campion is something of a pastiche of Lord Peter Wimsey, but also his own thing, and LPW is something of a pastiche of other mystery/action-men [see, among others, The Scarlet Pimpernel] but also his own thing...and both of them are in that precursor class of characters that set the stage for secret identities and a relatively effective protagonist hiding out as a bumbling fool, which characters like Superman and Batman and other superheroes made a pop-staple [only for it to be later dropped as a bit twee, overall]). All in all, a solid book from the Golden Age of Mystery that tries to pluck some different strings. Takes a bit more work to get swimming, but paddles along nicely once it does. Easily good enough for me to keep reading forward in the series.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Pamela

    Albert Campion is invited by his old friend Belle Lafcadio, widow of celebrated painter John Lafcadio, to a soirée to unveil one of John's works. He had left a number of paintings to be shown annually after his death. At the event, young painter Tom Dacre is fatally stabbed. Inspector Oates takes adavantage of Campion's presence as a witness, and his friendship with the family, to involve him in the investigation. Both become convinced they know the culprit, but without solid evidence are unsure Albert Campion is invited by his old friend Belle Lafcadio, widow of celebrated painter John Lafcadio, to a soirée to unveil one of John's works. He had left a number of paintings to be shown annually after his death. At the event, young painter Tom Dacre is fatally stabbed. Inspector Oates takes adavantage of Campion's presence as a witness, and his friendship with the family, to involve him in the investigation. Both become convinced they know the culprit, but without solid evidence are unsure if they can stop them before more crimes are committed. Interesting and entertaining romp - more of a straightforward mystery than previous Campion books, this still has a real edge of danger to it, and a thrilling conclusion. The bohemian world of artists in Little Venice is finely portrayed, and Allingham skilfully shows evil lurking among the bizarre and colourful characters of Lafcadio's entourage. The Campion series has become one of my favourite Golden Age series, and this is one of my favourite books from it. Campion shows his less fatuous side with some genuine concern for the elderly Belle, and his relationship with Oates works well too. Very enjoyable.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sherry Schwabacher

    The second Campion book I've read. The "art world" portrayed doesn't seem to have changed much over the intervening years - still full of unaccountable fads and wealthy people willing to pay unreasonable sums for the cachet of owning the latest sensation. The mystery here is less Whodunit than How do we keep him from doing it again? The denouement is early 20th-century psychological claptrap and the classist and racist attitudes along the way can make for uncomfortable reading. More than anythin The second Campion book I've read. The "art world" portrayed doesn't seem to have changed much over the intervening years - still full of unaccountable fads and wealthy people willing to pay unreasonable sums for the cachet of owning the latest sensation. The mystery here is less Whodunit than How do we keep him from doing it again? The denouement is early 20th-century psychological claptrap and the classist and racist attitudes along the way can make for uncomfortable reading. More than anything these little tales are a reminder of the way society has changed -really for the better - in the last century.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ann-Marie "Cookie M."

    This is not the best of the Albert Campion mysteries. There is no intrigue, in fact, very little mystery. It is mostly just waiting for the murderer to go one step too far. The story is about the art world in the 1930's in England, and what results from the legacy of a deceased artist's disposition of his integrated paintings. I know nothing about the art world in England in the 1930's. This book makes it seem depressing. I guess the Bright Young People had all dimmed by then. This is not the best of the Albert Campion mysteries. There is no intrigue, in fact, very little mystery. It is mostly just waiting for the murderer to go one step too far. The story is about the art world in the 1930's in England, and what results from the legacy of a deceased artist's disposition of his integrated paintings. I know nothing about the art world in England in the 1930's. This book makes it seem depressing. I guess the Bright Young People had all dimmed by then.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Katrina

    This is a fairly early Campion book and for me he was just a shadowy presence. Thankfully as he matures Allingham gives him a much more interesting character. This murder mystery is just so-so for me.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    An engaging story with memorable characters and a fast-paced story.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Albert Campion is attending an event at Little Venice, the home of late artist John Lafcadio. The artist’s widow Belle Darling (of the picture in the Louvre) has invited Campion to the posthumous unveiling of a painting by the artist of the trial of Joan of Arc. However, Belle has forgotten to put a shilling in the gas meter and the lights suddenly go out. Campion manages to find his way to insert a coin in the slot but, meanwhile, a young man has been killed with one fatal stab wound. Far from Albert Campion is attending an event at Little Venice, the home of late artist John Lafcadio. The artist’s widow Belle Darling (of the picture in the Louvre) has invited Campion to the posthumous unveiling of a painting by the artist of the trial of Joan of Arc. However, Belle has forgotten to put a shilling in the gas meter and the lights suddenly go out. Campion manages to find his way to insert a coin in the slot but, meanwhile, a young man has been killed with one fatal stab wound. Far from being baffled, Campion and Inspector Stanislaus Oates figure out who the murderer is without much delay. However, despite their certainty, they do not have a shred of evidence. The plot is clever despite a slight contrivance involving wine. The author refers several times to “the Nineties” meaning the 1890’s and it is impressive that the book holds up so well after close to a century.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jean

    Pleasant break from heavier stuff.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Uncle

    I often think that Johnnie’s work was unspoiled by the conventions of the period largely because he had an unwarrantable dislike of children. -Margery Allingham, Death of A Ghost Margery Allingham’s Death of A Ghost was published in 1934. It is the sixth mystery featuring Albert Campion, a seemingly unremarkable man in horn-rimmed glasses. But his nondescript appearance is a calculated disguise, for Campion is in fact a brilliant sleuth with a mysterious past. He is among those invited to attend I often think that Johnnie’s work was unspoiled by the conventions of the period largely because he had an unwarrantable dislike of children. -Margery Allingham, Death of A Ghost Margery Allingham’s Death of A Ghost was published in 1934. It is the sixth mystery featuring Albert Campion, a seemingly unremarkable man in horn-rimmed glasses. But his nondescript appearance is a calculated disguise, for Campion is in fact a brilliant sleuth with a mysterious past. He is among those invited to attend an exclusive event in the London art world, namely the unveiling of a canvas of a famous, (though long-dead) English painter, to be staged in the late artist’s studio. But the unveiling does not go as planned. When the studio lights are suddenly extinguished, a young man is viciously stabbed to death with a pair of scissors. The crime seems infuriatingly unsolvable to Scotland Yard. But Campion has his own suspicions about the killer. These solidify when a second murder, again apparently unsolvable, occurs in the circle of eccentric hangers-on gathered about the dead artist’s kindhearted widow. Campion finds himself drawn into a dangerous cat-and-mouse game with an increasingly daring murderer, one who it would appear is intent on making him the next victim. Margery Allingham is perhaps my least favorite of the “Golden Age” crime writers. I find her writing inconsistent. A reader never knows what to expect when they pick up one of her books. Her novels can vary wildly in quality and tone, and the latter can often change dramatically even within the same title. But peopled with memorably oddball characters, and sometimes quite funny, Death of A Ghost is an agreeable, entertaining, if not brilliant, mystery.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Malcolmaffleck

    Well, this is one of the worst books I've read - not only of Margery Allingham's ouevre, but also of books in general. There are some major plot, thematic and characterisation problems. This is all wrapped up in a mystery where halfway through the book you already know the culprit (not because of educated guesses, but because Campion tells you so) but the final reveal does not show any ingenuity or cleverness. So, the plot problems. The murders don't make much sense. (view spoiler)[Why does Max k Well, this is one of the worst books I've read - not only of Margery Allingham's ouevre, but also of books in general. There are some major plot, thematic and characterisation problems. This is all wrapped up in a mystery where halfway through the book you already know the culprit (not because of educated guesses, but because Campion tells you so) but the final reveal does not show any ingenuity or cleverness. So, the plot problems. The murders don't make much sense. (view spoiler)[Why does Max kill Dacre? The reasoning given is that he is about to start painting again, but that doesn't mean that he will reveal that he painted the fakes. It's like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.The attack on Campion also doesn't work, based as it is on the idea of of a made up wine mixing a little too well with gin, even after 24 hours. Also, the fact he remembers someone telling him about these effects which wasn't mentioned earlier in this novel is a little bit of a cheat, to be honest. (hide spoiler)] Thematic problems. As someone else has mentioned, Campion doesn't really do much detecting in this novel. The answer is just revealed to him halfway through the book and then he happens to be lucky in catching the murderer. Very lucky, in fact, which leads me on (and is tied to) character problems. Max is portrayed as a genius for a large part of the book. (view spoiler)[ To have him suddenly just go insane at the end is just sloppy and doesn't really work, thematically or in terms of his character. (hide spoiler)]

  26. 5 out of 5

    Susan in NC

    I'm reading the Campion mysteries in order (I read a few many years ago and didn't really like them, thought they were "Sayers Light"). I realize now how wrong I was - Allingham is a great writer, and Campion in this, his sixth outing, is really maturing. He's no longer just the vacuous "universal uncle", using a well-bred, slightly simple facade to hide his intelligence and slip into the background, observing and solving his mysteries. In this mystery, set among the bohemian artsy set of 1930s I'm reading the Campion mysteries in order (I read a few many years ago and didn't really like them, thought they were "Sayers Light"). I realize now how wrong I was - Allingham is a great writer, and Campion in this, his sixth outing, is really maturing. He's no longer just the vacuous "universal uncle", using a well-bred, slightly simple facade to hide his intelligence and slip into the background, observing and solving his mysteries. In this mystery, set among the bohemian artsy set of 1930s London, he's hunting a bold, possibly insane killer; one of the fascinating story angles is that Campion knows fairly early on whodunnit, but Allingham handles the cat-and-mouse between Campion and the increasingly daring and unstable killer masterfully. I've read some reviews in which readers were not thrilled with this departure for Campion, but I was really impressed by Allingham's portrayal of the pathos and hypocrisy of aging models, failed artists, and manipulative poseurs who make money off the fruits of the art world.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ann

    The charm of this book is the milieu in which it is set - an artistic coterie in London in the 1930s - rather than the puzzle. An artist is stabbed during a reception for the showing of a picture by the great, late John Lafcadio. Later one of the former Lafcadio hangers-on, one of the women eking out a precarious living on the fringes of the art world, is poisoned. What motive could there be for these two killings? Albert Campion, gentleman-detective in the aristocratic mold, understands who the The charm of this book is the milieu in which it is set - an artistic coterie in London in the 1930s - rather than the puzzle. An artist is stabbed during a reception for the showing of a picture by the great, late John Lafcadio. Later one of the former Lafcadio hangers-on, one of the women eking out a precarious living on the fringes of the art world, is poisoned. What motive could there be for these two killings? Albert Campion, gentleman-detective in the aristocratic mold, understands who the murderer is by a dazzling flash of intuition. Intuition, mind you, not insight. He just knows that a certain person killed both victims, but he doesn't know why or how. I found that irritating, a sloppy and easy solution. The rest of the book is then about a rather tame cat-and-mouse game between the murderer and Campion, with the murderer coming close to making Campion the third victim with some totally non-credible method. It all sounded very contrived and artificial.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Timothy VanderWall

    It began as a whodunit and soon became a how-do-we-prove-it. A great, though dead, artist left a series of paintings to be presented to the world after his death - one each year - all to prevent his closest competitor's rise to greatness. Unfortunately, one of those annual presentations ended in the murder of another artist. Albert Campion, friend of the family and sleuth par excellence, takes on the job of finding out who the murderer is. However once he determines who, he must prove it - not s It began as a whodunit and soon became a how-do-we-prove-it. A great, though dead, artist left a series of paintings to be presented to the world after his death - one each year - all to prevent his closest competitor's rise to greatness. Unfortunately, one of those annual presentations ended in the murder of another artist. Albert Campion, friend of the family and sleuth par excellence, takes on the job of finding out who the murderer is. However once he determines who, he must prove it - not so easy. This is another of Margery Allingham's excellent Campion series that is well worth reading.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kirsten

    Another excellent Campion mystery. An art gala turns deadly when the lights go out and an unassuming young artist is murdered. Who could the culprit be? The young man's jealous fiancee seems like the most likely suspect, but Mr. Campion is convinced that there is more to this strange death than a lover's spat. The climax of this novel is a bit over-the-top (something I've come to expect from Allingham -- she relishes a good bit of melodrama), but it's good fun and the mystery is satisfying. Another excellent Campion mystery. An art gala turns deadly when the lights go out and an unassuming young artist is murdered. Who could the culprit be? The young man's jealous fiancee seems like the most likely suspect, but Mr. Campion is convinced that there is more to this strange death than a lover's spat. The climax of this novel is a bit over-the-top (something I've come to expect from Allingham -- she relishes a good bit of melodrama), but it's good fun and the mystery is satisfying.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Js229

    I'm sure I've read some Allingham before with pleasure and I needed that memory to get me through the dull setup in the first half of the book, with too many characters competing for recognition. Or perhaps the satire on the art world is just too dated now that Little Venice is home to multimiliionaires. But the final unmasking-or-die-trying is ingenious if wildly implausible. I'll give Campion another go or two. I'm sure I've read some Allingham before with pleasure and I needed that memory to get me through the dull setup in the first half of the book, with too many characters competing for recognition. Or perhaps the satire on the art world is just too dated now that Little Venice is home to multimiliionaires. But the final unmasking-or-die-trying is ingenious if wildly implausible. I'll give Campion another go or two.

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