Title: Sweet Danger (Albert Campion #5)
Author: Margery Allingham
Published on: First published in 1933
Genre: Crime and Mystery
Guffy Randall is surprised to see his old friend Albert Campion in a French Hotel, accompanied by Eager-Wright, a mountaineer, and Farquharson, acting as a minor royalty. Campion explains that the trio are seeking proof of British rights to a small territory, which after a recent earthquake, has turned into an important harbour with its own fuel. Guffy joins the team and the group travels to a small village named Pontisbright.
After spending a night at the local inn, where Lugg claims to have seen a dead body wrapped in a cloth, lying on the heath, the group moves to a local mill which is managed by the Fittons. The Fittons claim that they are the long lost heirs of Averna (who rules Pontisbright). The Fitton family consists of three siblings – Mary, Amanda, Hal and their aunt Hattie. After a recent burglary attempt at the mill, the group believes that the burglary had something to do with Campion’s mission.
Campion has to solve the mystery of Averna as well as obtain the proofs before the thugs do.
This is the third Allingham book that I read and I must say, with each Albert Campion mystery that I am reading, I am liking the series even better. The story starts with Campion and the other two acting as people of Royal Descent. And as they go to Pontisbright and Amanda is introduced in the story, the reader is given a brief idea that Amanda is better than what she seems to be. Since I read Tiger in the Smoke and Traitor’s Purse before this book, I had a doubt that Amanda, who is his wife in Tiger in the Smoke and fiance` in Traitor’s Purse is the same Amanda Fitton who makes her (first) appearance in this story.
I wouldn’t say that there is a lot of mystery solving or sleuthing in this case. With so many characters in the story, it’s hard to follow the main mystery, which is, finding the truth about Averna. There’s a bit of witch-craft and abracadabra in the story and it was totally unrelated to the (main) story. Also, Hal (14), the youngest sibling of the Fittons throws around his male ego all of a sudden. At the beginning of the story, he’s a silent chap and then when he learns that he might actually be an heir, he manhandles Amanda, his elder sister. I did not like this. Brother or not, no man should raise his hand on a woman nor should he think that women are inferior and deserve to be thrashed! Again, since Amanda was portrayed as a strong and independent character, why didn’t she fight back when her brother twisted her arms and whatnot?
There is one thing that seems common to the Albert Campion mysteries that I have read so far. The stories are erratic. So many things happening at once and not much of sleuthing. Unlike Poirot or even Holmes for that matter, Campion series are more of this, that and everything else and then, Campion has a light-bulb moment of sorts and tada, the end! This is not my type of story but there is no harm in trying something different right?
I admit I did not enjoy the first Campion mystery that I read. While the second captured my interest, the third was more than average. As I mentioned above, it takes time for one to get used to Allingham’s storytelling and the series in general. Also, Campion is not a very likeable character. Not as much as Amanda at least. I really liked Amanda in this story. Her love for learning and experimenting on electricity and dynamos and vacuum tubes is appreciable. Campion takes a back seat in the second half of the story and this might have something to do with the fact that, he is supposedly sent to Peru on another mission. That part was really good. Campion says he has a toothache and he needs his jacket and scarf so off he goes to his home and then he comes back wearing a scarf and a jacket. Back at the mill, two days later, there is this atrocious looking lady who is, well, someone you know. 😉
If you have read Poirot, Miss Marple, Holmes and the likes, then you might find Campion a tad different. even the language for that matter is something that you might need some time to get used to. I gave it a try and I am willing to read the other books in this series, mainly because I love to experiment with different storytelling styles and authors. The ending, about Campion and Amanda, was kinda obvious. Again, this is because I knew from the other books that Amanda decides to work with Campion. I wouldn’t call it the best Campion mystery that I have read. Traitor’s Purse is still my favourite. Would I recommend this book? If you have read Campion mysteries before then go ahead and give it a try. If not, you can still give a try but do not expect a lot from this book (especially if you are a Christie fan).