Introduced by A. S. Byatt
Illustrated by James Boswell
Produced in series with The Tiger in the Smoke, this edition pays homage to an exceptional mystery writer.
With its psychological insight, ingenious plot and overarching mood of suspense, this superb thriller sees Allingham’s beloved gentleman detective, Albert Campion, trapped within a living nightmare. Waking in a dark and empty hospital ward, Campion is beset by two appalling realisations: he has lost all memory of his own identity and his life so far; and he alone must avert an enormous, impending disaster whose nebulous terrors fill him with a sense of urgency. Worse still, low voices coming from just outside his room reveal the recent murder of a policeman, and the certain hanging of the patient responsible for this most heinous of crimes …
This edition, produced in series with The Tiger in the Smoke, is introduced by A. S. Byatt, who writes that it ‘has the most amazing plot of any thriller I know’. James Boswell’s disorienting illustrations convey both the frustration and the drama of Campion’s predicament.
‘Traitor's Purse has the best single idea I've met in detective fiction … If I had to vote for the single best detective story, this would be it’
Written in 1940 and set during the ongoing war, this story pivots upon a simple but devastating criminal enterprise which Campion must uncover by increments, all the while hiding his amnesia – risking the loss of the woman he adores – and avoiding capture both by the police and the very enemies he pursues. Slowly he understands, aghast, that the preservation of the nation itself depends upon his success. Her setting is the quaint town of Bridge, whose charm blends uncomfortably with the sinister secrets that converge upon the Nag, a cavernous hill resembling the head of a giant horse. Deep in its centre lie the chambers of Bridge’s ruling ‘Masters’; a location so dramatic it almost prefigures the spectacular power bases found in Ian Fleming’s Bond novels. Allingham evokes both the strength of wartime patriotism and the workings of ancient English institutions, gently satirising the latter with her memorable, idiosyncratic characters. Expertly written and beautifully crafted, this is a mystery to be savoured.
‘Allingham is the best of mystery writers’
Margery Allingham is pre-eminent among the writers who brought the detective story to maturity in the decades between the two world wars. She was born in London in 1904, and her first novel was published when she was seventeen, with her first detective story, The White Cottage Mystery, following in 1928. Her next book, The Crime at Black Dudley (1929), introduced the character who was to become the hallmark of her writing: Albert Campion. She died in 1966.
A. S. Byatt is an internationally renowned novelist, poet and shortstory writer. She studied at Newnham College, Cambridge, taught at the Central School of Art and Design, and was Senior Lecturer in English at University College, London, before returning to full-time writing in 1983. Her novels include the Booker Prize-winning Possession (1990; Folio edition 2009), The Biographer’s Tale (2000), and The Children’s Book (2009). Her most recent novel, Ragnarok, was published in 2011. A distinguished critic as well as a writer of fiction, A. S. Byatt was appointed CBE in 1990 and DBE in 1999.
James Boswell was born in London in 1990. He grew up in North Buckinghamshire and studied illustration at Falmouth University, during which time he was awarded ‘Best of Year’ in D&AD’s illustration category. Having graduated in 2012, Boswell continues to work as a freelance illustrator in the west of England. He illustrated The Drowned World for The Folio Society in 2013.
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Review by PAULALOUD on 3rd Mar 2016
"I think this book eclipsed Allingham's The Tiger in the Smoke for the simple reason that the character development of gentleman detective Albert Campion and the "story within a story" aspect of this n..." [read more]
Review by CarltonC on 1st Nov 2015
"A really enjoyable thriller/mystery story. I read 15 of Allingham's Albert Campion novels in 1991/92, having read many of Sayer's Peter Wimsey novels and thinking that Campion was a good imitation, ..." [read more]
Review by experi-ate on 18th Oct 2015
"What an amazing read. Having never read crime fiction I was a tad dubious starting this, but can now honestly say I was gripped from the start. There's a mystery threaded through the plot, mirrored by..." [read more]