Review: Death of a Ghost

Death of a Ghost
Death of a Ghost by Margery Allingham

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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.

View all my reviews

About Lance Greenfield

Blog: email: I published my debut novel in December 2014: Eleven Miles. My second novel went live in February 2016: Knitting Can Walk!
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2 Responses to Review: Death of a Ghost

  1. Ina Morata says:

    I find your honest appraisal of Campion really interesting. As someone who has both read and studied more interwar mystery fiction than a lot of people, I can honestly say that I agree with you. I always felt a bit guilty for finding Campion…well…a bit boring. I felt like I should try and rub along with him just as well as Poirot, or Lord Peter Wimsey, and so on, but I struggle.

    Margery Allingham was never really well accepted into the circle of her contemporary mystery writers, and I always feel that her detective doesn’t sit too well among them, either. Having read a number of Allingham’s novels, I always feel that fortune plays a significant part in solving the crimes, and I find it difficult to elevate Campion’s detective prowess to the level of his contemporaries. Also, a detective which can tell one of the female protagonists in one of the novels that she what she needs is a ‘good rape’ makes me twitch enough to leave the butler to solve the murder of his employer!

    However, if you want some recommendations of other authors who wrote interwar British mystery fiction, or you want to take it a step further and read the contemporary parodies and pastiches of such works, do let me know. I have an ongoing website project on this, under a different name.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I always appreciate a mindful review, Lance. I have very little time for “fun/entertainment” reading. So it’s an unhappy thing for me to start a book I don’t particularly like. Have a thriving Thursday. Huge hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

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