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Police at the funeral by Margery Allingham
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Police at the funeral (original 1931; edition 1932)

by Margery Allingham

Series: Albert Campion (4)

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7561720,478 (3.63)51
The imperious Caroline Faraday runs her house like a Victorian fiefdom, unconcerned with the fact that it's 1931. Furniture and meals are heavy and elaborate, both motorcars and morning tea are forbidden on account of vulgarity. The Faraday children - now well into middle age -- chafe at the restrictions, but with no money of their own, they respond primarily by quarreling amongst themselves. Their endless squabbling is tedious but nothing more until one of them turns up missing and then dead, followed shortly by his petulant, whining sister. Though neither will be much missed, decency demands that Caroline Faraday hire the nearly respectable Albert Campion to investigate their untimely ends. Unfortunately, what Mr. Campion discovers will force the modern world relentlessly into Mrs. Faraday's stuffy Victorian parlor. A richly detailed and entertaining romp, with a fascinating resolution and an unconventional and winning sleuth - Chicago Tribune… (more)
Member:benfulton
Title:Police at the funeral
Authors:Margery Allingham
Info:Garden City, N.Y., Pub. for the Crime Club by Doubleday, Doran [c1932]
Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:None

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Police at the Funeral by Margery Allingham (1931)

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» See also 51 mentions

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Police At the Funeral by Margery Allingham is the fourth book in series that features the man of mystery Albert Campion. Neither a detective nor a spy, he seems to have his fingers in many pies and, it also seems he is a member of a very highly placed family, maybe even one of royalty. In this outing he is called upon to assist an old friend who is concerned for his fiancée who lives with many members of her family at a large house called Socrates Close in Cambridge.

Great Aunt Caroline rules the roost at Socrates Close, her word is law and the rest of the relatives that live there despise each other and chaff under the rules but as Great Aunt Caroline holds the purse strings, they obey. When suddenly one of the uncles and then one of the aunts are murdered, both terror and mystery are unleashed.

Another fun outing that has Albert Campion solving an intricate mystery. With lots of running around in the night, and strange cryptic symbols appearing on the windows, the author knows exactly how to elevate the tension and keep the reader turning the pages. With it’s witty writing, dry humor and plenty of red herrings strewn about, Police At The Funeral was an engaging puzzler. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Jun 17, 2016 |
After three books, for the first time, Allingham takes Campion out of the thriller genre and into a much more traditional manor house murder mystery. And while she doesn't leave the solution as apparent as, say, Agatha Christie might, most of the major clues are on open display to the reader, and there is every possibility they will be able to guess at the solution before it is revealed. Allingham shows her skill at misdirection to the point where the solution, when it comes, feels almost obvious. How could you miss that? But you do. It's very clever.

Part of Allingham's misdirection is, as always, her presentation of tremendously vivid characters. This time, there's a whole houseful, lorded over by the tiny but dominating personality of eighty-six-year-old Caroline Faraday, who keeps a raven's watchful eye on her flighty and selfish family. We are reminded again and again that all emotion seems to have been driven from her personality in her attempt to keep control, and it is to this end that she enlists Campion as her personal eyes and ears during the investigation. The intellectual dance they keep up through the novel is almost beguiling: one, masked in stoicism, the other, masked as a fool. Their interactions lead to a delightful and surprising resolution.

Police at the Funeral comes at the end of an intense writing period for Allingham, which may explain the lackluster title; after this, she took a longer-than-usual break before the next in the series. Perhaps she even contemplated ending it here. Had that been the case, it doubtless would have ended Mr. Campion's adventures on a very high note; this is a strong, assured piece of work, very engaging and well on-par with more famous mysteries of the period. Like Mr. Campion himself, it deserves better recognition. ( )
  saroz | Dec 22, 2015 |
Police at the Funeral by Margery Allingham is a 2013 PFD books publication.

This is the fourth book in the Albert Campion series originally published way back in 1939. I stumbled across this little gem scrolling through the Kindle Lending Library last month. They have several of the books in this series, so at some point I would like to begin reading them from the beginning. I love the older British mystery novels, and I hate to admit this, but this series was way under my radar. It may be familiar to many, but I had never heard of it. So, I'm thrilled to have found this one!

A wealthy matriarch who is burdened with a crew of underachieving middle aged relatives, runs a tight ship, which causes a lot of tension in the household. But, when one of the family members, Andrew Faraday, disappears, Joyce, a second generation family member, seeks answers, thus persuading her fiance, Marcus, to hire Albert Campion to look into matters. But, before he gets a good start, it is discovered that Andrew is dead, an apparent murder victim. Directly on the heels of this development, another family member dies of poisoning. With a household full of suspects, a good old fashioned mystery develops, with a hint of suspense, as the family wonders who might be next.

Golden age mysteries are always fun to read. These books were written with mild language, no sexual content, and non-graphic violence. The focus is on the characters, their possible motives, the atmosphere, the dialogue and the clues, always giving the reader a good brain teaser, as we attempt to guess whodunit and why.

Albert is an enigma in many ways, and has an interesting history which he chooses to avoid dealing with. I found the family and this gloomy mansion they resided in to be very interesting and odd. These were some strange birds to be sure, but I found the relationship between Marcus and Joyce most curious. The engaged couple never even spoke to each other, I don't think. Joyce had rather deep conversations with Campion, but Marcus interacted with his fiance once, and only when she was incredibly upset, and he still didn't speak to her, he only put his arm around her.

The mystery did get bogged down and lost it's focus around the midway mark, but in the end, I was stunned by the outcome.
Overall, I am keen to check out more these mysteries. Reading a few reviews about this series, it has come to light there was a TV show based on the these mysteries too. So I'll have to look into that as well, but I am so happy to see these books have been released into digital format and are available in the Kindle store.
4 stars ( )
  gpangel | May 14, 2015 |
Number 4 in the British mystery series featuring Albert Campion. A friend asks Campion to help deal with a situation developing involving where his fiance is staying in Cambridge. He then becomes involved with an eccentric family dominated and supported by Great Aunt Caroline. He works closely with a Scotland Yard inspector who is called in to help solve the murder of one of the family members.

There are a lot of false leads in this mystery and much of the story revolves around the very colorful family members. ( )
  Hanneri | Feb 3, 2015 |
I love old vintage mysteries – I rarely read modern crime fiction – and if I do its historical or a bit cosy. I adore all those gentlemen sleuths and big houses full of odd crusty characters and convoluted mysteries. But aside from all that which is all pretty great anyway – these old vintage mysteries from that period called the Golden Age of Crime, were proper well written novels, with interesting characters fully explored, they are wonderful period pieces. It is years since I read any Margery Allingham, I think I have actually only read a couple. So I was delighted when my sister slipped a couple of old vintage green Penguin Allingham’s into my birthday pressies this month.

“After his first start of surprise the Inspector swung round to find himself facing a young man perched insecurely on a pile of debris in the warm murky shelter of the stove. A shaft of light from the furnace lit up the figure, throwing him into sharp relief.
The Inspector had a vision of a lank immaculate form surmounted by a pale face half obliterated by enormous horn-rimmed spectacles. The final note of incongruity was struck by an old-fashioned deerstalker cap set jauntily upon the top of the young man’s head.
Chief Detective-Inspector Stanislaus Oates began to laugh. Ten minutes before he had felt that spontaneous mirth was permanently beyond him.
‘Campion!’ he said ‘Who’s after you now?’

Aristocratic amateur sleuth Albert Campion aids his friend Inspector Stanislaus Oates in a very perplexing mystery at the home of a group of unhappy ageing cousins and siblings. The household is certainly a very odd one, matriarchal figure Caroline Faraday is an imperious, tiny woman, doted on by her maid Alice, she rules over her household absolutely. There is an atmosphere of strict Victorianism about the place, old heavy furniture and long drawn out formal meal times. Morning tea is strictly forbidden as are motor cars. Her middle aged children and nephew share the house for purely monetary reasons; they each dislike all the others, and are given to frequent squabbles and sulks. Young Joyce Blount, engaged to a solicitor of Campion’s acquaintance, and distantly related to this odd collection of dependents, comes to consult Campion about the peculiar disappearance of her Uncle Andrew. Andrew Seeley is one of the warring relatives who share the house; Socrates Close. Coincidently Inspector Oates is with Campion when Joyce first meets Campion, and it is later that same day that Uncle Andrew’s body is discovered, shot and bound head and foot in a river. The next day, another of the residents of this large shared house is found poisoned in her bed. Joyce decides to stay in the house with her peculiar relatives – the three of them who are left – despite the worrying turn of events.

Campion and Oates have much to unravel. There are lies and subterfuges to be uncovered, a missing hat, an enormous bare footprint in a flower bed, with yet another mysterious relative lurking somewhere in the background. This is all perfectly marvellous vintage crime fare – locked doors, blackmail and poisoning and a brilliant denouement that I really didn’t see coming.

There was a rather unsettling moment at the end – which I can’t say too much about for obvious reasons – but suddenly out of nowhere came a rather unpleasant piece of casual racism which really left a sour taste. There have been lots of occasions when I have come across slight racist references before in old vintage mysteries – I tend to know already to expect them if there is a character in the story from another country for instance- and steal myself accordingly but this one caught me off guard rather and slightly spoiled a book I had otherwise thoroughly enjoyed. Still all that aside – I am looking forward to reading more Margery Allingham soon especially The China Governess – what a great title! ( )
1 vote Heaven-Ali | May 28, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Allingham, Margeryprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hofschuster, Friedrich A.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Matthews, FrancisNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rutten-Kooistra, T.W.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedication
To My Seven Paternal Uncles
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When one man is following another, however discreet may be the pursuer or the pursued, the act does not often pass unnoticed in the streets of London.
Quotations
"This person was shipped off to the colonies many years ago. He returned with ... a wife. They had a child ... by some horrible machination of heredity the stain in the woman's blood had come out. ... The child was a blackamoor. ... George bears our name and he is always threatenng to reveal his half-caste blood ... --a touch of the tarbrush! It is unthinkable!" ... Mr Campion understood what it was that she considered worse than murder. ... He felt very honoured by her confidence.
As they entered, a wire-haired fox terrier of irreproachable breeding, rose from the
hearth-rug and came to meet them with leisurely dignity. Marcus effected an introduction hastily.

‘Foon,’ he said. ‘Written “Featherstonehaugh”.’

Somewhat to his host’s embarrassment Mr Campion shook hands with the dog, who seemed to appreciate the courtesy, for he followed them back to the hearth-rug, waiting for them to be seated before he took up his position on the rug again, where he sat during the rest of the proceedings with the same air of conscious breeding which characterized his master.
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The imperious Great Aunt Caroline Faraday runs her old Cambridge residence like a Victorian fiefdom, unconcerned with the fact that it's 1931. Furniture and meals are heavy and elaborate, both motorcars and morning tea are forbidden on account of vulgarity. The Faraday children--now well into middle age--chafe at the restrictions, but with no money of their own, they respond primarily by quarreling amongst themselves. The illustrious Faraday family endless squabbling is tedious, but the tense tranquility is punctured when Nephew Andrew vanished without trace one Sunday morning after church, only to be found dead in a secluded stream. Matters are complicated further by the murder of Julia, his petulant and whining sister, poisoned by her morning cup of tea. Though neither will be much missed, decency demands that Caroline Faraday hire the nearly respectable Albert Campion to investigate away from the bustle of Piccadilly,their untimely ends. Mr. Campion must untangle a web of family resentments, little does he expect to be greeted by a band of eccentric relatives all at daggers with each other. He must unravel a chillingly ingenious plot, strewn with red herrings to get to the real secret of the Faradays. Unfortunately, what Mr. Campion discovers will force the modern world relentlessly into Mrs. Faraday's stuffy Victorian parlor.
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