Review: The Beckoning Lady by Margery Allingham

Esta entrada es bilingüe, para ver la versión en castellano desplazarse hacia abajo

My contribution to the #1955book challenge at Past Offences blog.

Vintage 2007. Format: Paperback. First published in Great Britain in 1955 by Chatoo & Windus. ISBN: 9780099506089. 246 pages. Aka The Estate of the Beckoning Lady

First published in 1955 The Beckoning Lady (known in the US as The State of the Beckoning Lady) is the fifteenth book in Margery Allingham’s Albert Campion Mystery series, following The Tiger in the Smoke (1952).

The plot, as we read at The Margery Allingham Society page, is as follows: Old William Faraday is dead, apparently of natural causes. Another man is dead too, and it was certainly murder. Mr Campion and his family are back in Pontisbright, along with Magersfontein Lugg and DCI Charles Luke. Danger is hardly unknown in this idyllic Suffolk village, but it is a less romantic peril than on Mr Campion’s first visit, more than twenty years ago. Mr Campion’s friends Minnie and Tonker Cassands put on a cheerful face as they prepare for their annual party at Minnie’s house, The Beckoning Lady, but Minnie has serious problems with the Inland Revenue – and the dead man in the ditch is a tax inspector. Mr Campion has a formidable adversary in Superintendent Fred South of the Suffolk Police, whom we encountered in ‘Safer than Love’. And to cap it all, Charlie Luke falls like a ton of bricks for the most unsuitable girl imaginable…

I’ve found the story of this ‘cosy mystery’, highly enjoyable and entertaining. The action takes place in an idyllic village and I believe that it reflects very well some aspects of the life in the fifties. The characters are pretty eccentric but quite funny. All in all, it is worth reading. And, no doubt, it will delight all genre aficionados, and in particular to Agatha Christie’s faithful followers. It wasn’t very wise from my side to begin this series with this book and I must admit I had to make an effort with the first pages, but its was worthwhile. And I look forward to reading more of her books in chronological order. The Beckoning Lady was Allingham’s personal favorite among her novels. According to the Margery Allingham Society: “there are strong autobiographical elements in the narrative: Minnie Cassands is something of a self-portrait, and her husband Tonker is derived from Youngman Carter [Allingham’s husband]. The celebration at the Beckoning Lady ‘mirrors something of what a summer party could be like at Tolleshunt D’Arcy [Allingham’s home],’ and the absurd routines imposed on Minnie by her income tax adviser clearly had their origin in a real-life frustration.”

My rating: A (I loved it)

Margery Allingham was born in London in 1904. She sold her first story at age 8 and published her first novel before turning 20. She married the artist, journalist and editor Philip Youngman Carter in 1927. In 1928 Allingham published her first detective story, The White Cottage Mystery, and the following year, in The Crime at Black Dudley, she introduced the detective who was to become the hallmark of her sophisticated crime novels and murder mysteries – Albert Campion. Famous for her London thrillers, such as Hide My Eyes and The Tiger in the Smoke, Margery Allingham has been compared to Dickens in her evocation of the city’s shady underworld. Acclaimed by crime novelists such as P.D. James, Allingham is counted alongside Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie and Gladys Mitchell as a pre-eminent Golden Age crime writer. Margery Allingham died in 1966.

Vintage Books

Further readings:

Margery Allingham by B. A. Pike at The Margery Allingham Society 

Albert Campion page at Wikipedia

The Great Detectives: Albert Campion by Mike Ripley

Margery Allingham A Brief Biography at Classic Crime Fiction

The Beckoning Lady / The Estate of the Beckoning Lady, 1955 por Margery Allingham

Publicado inicialmente en 1955 The Beckoning Lady (conocido en los EE.UU. como The Estate of the Beckoning Lady) es el décimoquinto libro de Margery Allingham en la serie de Misterio Albert Campion, a continuación de El Tigre en la niebla (1952).

El argumento, según leemos en la página The Margery Allingham Society, es el siguiente: El anciano William Faraday ha muerto, aparentemente por causas naturales. Otro hombre ha muerto también, y fue sin duda asesinado. El señor Campion y su familia están de regreso en Pontisbright, junto con Magersfontein Lugg y DCI Charles Luke. El peligro es casi desconocido en este idílico pueblo de Suffolk, pero es un peligro menos romántico que en la primera visita del señor Campion, hace más de veinte años. Los amigos del señor Campion, Minnie y Tonker Cassands simulan estar de buen humor mientras se preparan para celebrar su fiesta anual en casa de Minnie, The Beckoning Lady, pero Minnie tiene serios problemas con Hacienda – y el hombre muerto en la cuneta es inspector de impuestos. El señor Campion encuentra a un formidable adversario en el superintendente Fred South de la Policía de Suffolk, a quien ya conocemso de ‘Safer than Love’. Y para colmo, Charlie Luke se enamora perdidamente de la chica mas inadecuada que nos podemos imaginar … (Mi traducción libre)

He encontrado la historia de este “cosy mystery” muy amena y entretenida. La acción se desarrolla en un paraje idílico y creo que refleja muy bien algunos aspectos de la vida en los años cincuenta. Los personajes son bastante excéntricos, pero resultan muy divertidos. Con todo, vale la pena su lectura. Y, sin duda, hará las delicias de todos los aficionados al género, y en particular de los fieles seguidores de Agatha Christie. No fue muy inteligente por mi parte empezar esta serie con este libro y tengo que admitir que tuve que hacer un esfuerzo con las primeras páginas, pero ha merecido la pena. Y espero con interés leer varios de sus libros por orden cronológico. The Beckoning Lady era la novela favorita de Margery Allingham, entre todas las suyas. De acuerdo con la Margery Allingham Society: “La historia contiene fuertes elementos autobiográficos: Minnie Cassands es en parte un autorretrato, y su marido, Tonker, está tomado de Youngman Carter [el marido de Allingham]. La fiesta en The Beckoning Lady reproduce en algo lo que podria ser una celebración veraniega en Tolleshunt D’Arcy [la casa de Allingham]’, y las rutinas absurdas impuestas a Minnie por su asesor fiscal claramente tendrían su origen en una frustración real”.

Mi valoración: A (Me encantó)

Margery Allingham nació en Londres en 1904. Vendió su primer relato a los 8 años y publicó su primera novela antes de cumplir los 20. Se casó con el artista, periodista y editor Philip Youngman Carter en 1927. En 1928 Allingham publicó su primer relato policial, The White Cottage Mystery, y al año siguiente, en The Crime at Black Dudley, introduce al detective que se convertiría en el sello distintivo de sus sofisticadas novelas de crímen y misterio – Albert Campion. Famosa por sus novelas de suspense ambientadas en Londres, tales como Hide My Eyes y El tigre en la niebla, Margery Allingham ha sido comparada con Dickens por su evocación de los turbios bajos fondos de la ciudad. Aclamada por novelistas de novela negra de la talla de P. D. James, Allingham junto con Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie y Gladys Mitchell forma parte del grupo de novelistas más importantes de la Edad de Oro en la literatura de detectives. Margery Allingham falleción en el 1966.

RBA Serie Negra 

Albert Campion – Margery Allingham en Mis detectives favorit@s

12 thoughts on “Review: The Beckoning Lady by Margery Allingham”

  1. Ha! I’ve just been posting notes on another 1955 Golden Age mystery, Ngaio Marsh’s Scales of Justice. That Rich Westwood has a lot to answer for . . .

    Thanks for an engaging writeup of a novel that I, too, remember enjoying enormously.

    1. Thanks John. I understand and correct me if I’m wrong that you have Margery Allingham in very high esteem, higher than Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh and Dorothy L. Sayers.

      1. I certainly hold her in very high esteem, and prefer her to Christie. Otherwise I’m leery of making direct comparisons. Marsh is another favorite, for me. Sayers I’m planning to go back and reappraise sometime soon.

      2. Well thanks again, John. I need to read Marsh and Sayers. FWIW Allingham is not very well known in Spain. I think only the Spanish version of The Tiger in the Smoke is easily available. Some second hand bookshops may have old translations of her early books.

  2. I love this book: I am a big fan of Allingham and this is one of my favourites among her books. I find the setting very memorable and beautifully drawn, and I love the varied characters. I am not always a big fan of romance in detective stories, but in this case I loved the relationship between Charlie Luke and Prune.

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