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Traitor's Purse by Margery Allingham
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Traitor's Purse

by Margery Allingham

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Albert Campion (11)

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Traitor's Purse
Margery Allingham
October 25, 2016
I finished this novel in a day. Inspector Albert Campion awakens in a hospital ward after a head injury with a certain knowledge that he has only a short time to avert some disaster, but no clear idea of who he is, or what the disaster might be. He escapes, driving wildly, followed by his girlfriend. He is convinced he is wanted by the police, but allies himself with a constable, and breaks into a secret society in an English country town; he learned he should do this from the constable. His identity is doubted, and he escapes again, encounters his accomplices, and is finally back in the hands of police, where another head trauma restores some old memories. He finally thwarts a scheme to ruin the finances of England on the verge of the second world war. Very well plotted, intelligent dialog, but the plot turns on neurologically unrealistic features of head injury and amnesia, although the description of Campion's thought processes when he is in his amnesia is very well done. ( )
  neurodrew | Oct 28, 2016 |
Traitor's Purse by Margery Allingham

The man lay in a small pool of light in an otherwise darkened hospital room. He was pleased that his mind was beginning to function sufficiently for him to imagine he might be in hospital and to know what a hospital was. He was aware that sometimes in such circumstances one loses the ability to read, but that knowledge puzzled him, as he had no idea what 'such circumstances' might be. He could hear low voices at a distance and concentrated on them hoping to catch some words which might mean anything to him. He heard a man say "Probably he won't even remember what's happened - or he'll say he doesn't until he's seen a lawyer." "They'll hang him, I suppose?" asked a woman. "Bound to, Miss. It was one of us, you see, so there's no way of getting out of it. Once a man slugs an officer of police he's for it."

The man in bed felt that he had known policemen very well and liked them, but why and what on earth had happened to him? The policeman had said he would have no memory, and he didn't, only a great fear that went beyond his personal safety, and a responsibility about fifteen. But what that responsibility might be, and indeed what 'fifteen' signified were mysteries. Filled with a sense of urgency separate from any wish to avoid the noose, the man escaped the hospital, noticing things about himself such as his unthinking ability to pick locks, drive fast, and assume an air of authority. Life becomes more complicated when he is found by people who know him and drive him to a weekend party at a large house where he is an expected guest. There he is given a letter addressed from 'My office. The Yard.', and says "Dear A.C..... For God's sake get busy. Keep your eye on the calendar. The figures 15 turn my belly whenever I see or hear them. .. .. Forced to rely on you only now. Every other line has gone slack and the time is so short. If you fail, for my part I shall wait until the balloon actually does go up and then swim quietly out to sea. .. If this thing happens it is the END. .... Damn you, succeed. S'.

Albert Campion, for it is he, has to figure out what he is being relied upon to do, and by whom, who the other people he encounters are, and which of them are to be trusted. He discovers that his mission has been so secret that his allies neither know nor expect to know what it is, although they have been providing him with assistance. As if this were not enough, he is having to evade capture by police who have circulated his description following his escape from the hospital. Concerned by both the possibility of arrest for murder and the likely reaction of others to the discovery that the man tasked with saving the country has no idea what he is doing and has significantly impaired mental capacity Campion doesn't tell anyone about his time in hospital and his loss of memory.

This device puts the reader to some extent in the same position as Campion. People appear, information is gathered, but what does it mean?

This book was first published in 1941, and the events of the time are reflected in the plot. The need for a hero who puts nation above self, the nature of the villains, etc. The ultimate solution seems a bit of a let down, but that is perhaps because Allingham has plumbed for a scheme which whilst ultimately devastating in its consequences lacks drama in its delivery. A good old school mystery within the Campion series in which the hero reassesses his relationships with those closest to him.
  Oandthegang | Feb 28, 2016 |
a very good read

a compelling example of having the main character having lost his memory and it only coming back gradually through the read, whilst at the same time trying to solve the mystery.

Spotted the "solution" ( ie the method) relativley early but not the culprit until quite late.

Allingham certainly does mix up the type of story through this series about Albert Campion.

Big Ship

5 January 2016 ( )
  bigship | Jan 4, 2016 |
a very good read

a compelling example of having the main character having lost his memory and it only coming back gradually through the read, whilst at the same time trying to solve the mystery.

Spotted the "solution" ( ie the method) relativley early but not the culprit until quite late.

Allingham certainly does mix up the type of story through this series about Albert Campion.

Big Ship

5 January 2016 ( )
  bigship | Jan 4, 2016 |
I enjoy the Campion series. This is my favorite so far. Campion has amnesia. Narrative begins in his confusion. And stays pretty close to what he knows. Very clever. Set in early WW II. ( )
  idiotgirl | Dec 25, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Margery Allinghamprimary authorall editionscalculated
Matthews, FrancisNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wilkinson, ChuckCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553238221, Mass Market Paperback)

Albert Campion, international spy, on His Majesty’s secret service? Stranger things have happened, but if they have, Campion can’t remember them: He’s in hospital, the victim of an apparent accident, and with no memory of anything except the fact that the fate of the British Empire is somehow cradled in his bandaged hands. He can’t remember his faithful manservant, he can’t remember his fiance, and most particularly, he can’t remember killing a policeman, a crime for which whispering voices outside his hospital room claim he will shortly hang. Escaping in a stolen car, Campion finds odd shreds of memory returning. His mission, he’s certain, has something to do with the number 15 and also with the town of Bridge, which – he dimly recalls – is run by an ancient, hereditary, and extremely secretive sect.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:53 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

CRIME & MYSTERY. Celebrated amateur detective Albert Campion awakes in hospital accused of attacking a police officer and suffering from acute amnesia. All he can remember is that he was on a mission of vital importance to His Majesty's government before his accident. On the run from the police and unable to recognise even his faithful servant Lugg or his own fiancee, Campion struggles desperately to put the pieces together while the very fate of England is at stake.… (more)

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