Title: The Return of Mr Campion
Author: Margery Allingham
First published in 1989. Reprint by Agora Books on 11 April 2019
Genre: Short Stories, Mystery and Thrillers
The Return of Mr Campion is a collection of 13 short stories by Margery Allingham. The title is slightly misleading as only some of the short stories feature the great Detective Mr. Albert Campion.
The stories included in the book are: The Case is Altered; My Friend Mr Campion; The Dog Day; The Wind Glass; The Beauty King; The Black Tent; Sweet and Low; Once in a Lifetime; The Kernel of Truth; Happy Christmas; The Wisdom of Esdras; The Curious Affair in Nut Row; What to Do with an Ageing Detective; Tall Story.
The Wisdom of Esdras was a funny story with a hint of paranormal activity. A lodger claims to have seen a lady in lilac dress in the middle of the night. The owner’s wife claims that the lady he saw is a ghost. The ghost makes an appearance again that night and the lodger decides to ‘help’ the ghost. What happens next is funny and at the same time, mind-blowing.
The Wind Glass gave me creeps down the spine! A young girl rejects the proposal of a Japanese man. A couple of months later, he sends her a gift – a wind chime (wind glass). As the wind blows, the decor chimes and with its chimes it brings chaos. Revenge is not always sweet, is it?
The Kernel of Truth is the story of a man who comes across a recipe for a punch from his great-aunt. The man is forced to marry a woman he doesn’t love. But as he prepares the recipe of the punch on his wedding day, he sees a change in his surroundings. His wife-to-be looks beautiful, the wedding guests seem to be well-behaved and everything goes fine. Years later, he prepares the punch again and same thing happens. He tells his wife that every time this occurs, there is only one thing that’s common – he sees her and things go well. The poor wife thinks that even after years of marriage, her husband still loves her dearly. You know the saying – men will be men, right? Hah! Thankfully, the poor lady did not hear the truth or she would have given her husband a punch in the face.
The Beauty King is a story of a woman who is madly in love with a man who doesn’t care for her. Though he cannot live without her, he says he wants her to be with him so that he can be successful. If it’s not a happy ending then the love story isn’t worth it! That’s what I feel. Nevertheless, I liked this story because it was something different from the usual.
Black Tent is the story of blackmail and love. This reminded me of one of the Sherlock Holmes mystery – The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton. Once in a Lifetime is a tragic love story – the kind that makes you cry in the end. The Dog Day is a witty story of a con and as the title suggests, involves a dog. Happy Christmas is a charming story of celebrating Christmas with friends and family. The Case is Altered is another interesting short story featuring Campion.
The above mentioned short stories are the ones that I really liked. The other stories are good too but these are the ones that stood out. One gets to read some of the best of Allingham’s works in this collection of short stories – Wind Glass and Wisdom of Esdras is something that I would want to read again and again.
I haven’t read all of Margery Allingham’s books s I really cannot comment on her best works but this book is surely one of her best. When I requested the book from NetGalley, I was thinking that it would be similar to 12 Labors of Hercules by Agatha Christie. Instead, this turned out to be a potpourri of short stories with only some featuring Campion. Allingham’s storytelling skills are excellent and one gets to see that in this book.
If you are a Margery Allingham fan then do not miss to check out this book. The reprint by Agora Books will be out on 11th of April, 2019.
Margery Allingham books that I have read and read so far:
Click here to read Anjana’s thoughts on this book.
Thank you, Agora Books and NetGalley for the ARC.