Mr Campion’s Farewell
by Margery Allingham; completed by Mike Ripley
(Severn House, 2014)
Following the great Margery Allingham’s death in 1966, her husband Pip Youngman Carter completed her novel Cargo of Eagles, followed by another two books. He was at work on another at the time of his death in 1969. The unfinished manuscript was left to Allingham’s sister Joyce and, on her death in 2001, was left to the Margery Allingham Society. Crime writer Mike Ripley (author of the Fitzroy Maclean Angel series – seek them out if you haven’t had the pleasure) offered to complete the novel.
In an introduction, Ripley says he has ‘attempted to follow Pip Youngman Carter’s style and approach rather than try a pastiche of Margery Allingham…which would have been difficult if not impossible’. I haven’t read any of the novels by Youngman Carter, but I have read a fair amount of Margery Allingham, and can say that Ripley is certainly being modest. He has captured the essence of Allingham’s writing – and, perhaps most importantly, the character of Albert Campion. The gentleman sleuth is as witty and charming as he ever was. The novel as a whole, in fact, is written with a a gentle humour perfectly in keeping with the golden age of the detective novel. I think it’s fair to say that Ripley has done more than just ‘complete’ the novel, but the book is all the better for it. The novel is an homage, but not at the expense of any originality or freshness.
Notionally Campion’s swansong, the references to – and overriding theme of – ageing and of things coming to a natural end are moving, if lessened slightly by the announcement of another novel to follow.
Allingham supposedly created Albert Campion as a parody of Dorothy L. Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey, but while I find Wimsey rather irritating, I’ve always had a soft spot for Campion, and it’s lovely to see him back on such form.
Mr Campion’s Farewell is out now.
Review copy from Severn House, with thanks.