07 October 2010
Top mysteries challenge review: The Tiger in the Smoke by Margery Allingham
Series and no.: Albert Campion # 14
Type of mystery: Murder, hidden treasure
Type of investigator: Police and amateur
Setting & time: London, contemporary
A young woman begins to receive photographs in the mail that appear to be of her husband, who went missing and was presumed dead during World War II. A lot is at stake in finding out the truth, as she is about to remarry. Then an escaped convict starts killing people, and it turns out that the two cases are connected, and Albert Campion and his friend, inspector Charles Luke, have a difficult case on their hands.
This is an intricate and tightly woven thriller plot, featuring Allingham’s series detective more in an advisory capacity than as an actual solver of the mystery, giving the police a more active role in the solving of the case. The criminal is a terrifyingly realistic piece of work, a psychopath who will let nothing and no-one stand in his way. The other stand-out character is an elderly clergyman who is so unworldly and good that he provides a perfect balance to the ruthless killer. The rest of the characters are rather bland, with the possible exception of a couple of the villain's cronies. This is an enjoyable read, well written and full of action.
Rating: 4+ stars.
Books left in challenge: 76
Place on the list(s): CWA 26
Awards and nominations: None I know of