Margery Allingham - a shining light
‘Margery Allingham stands out like a shining light’
Though overshadowed by some of her contemporaries, Allingham is a master of the genre. Her characters and settings are beautifully drawn, among them Albert Campion, the reserved, likeable sleuth who appears in 14 of Allingham’s novels and remains her most famous creation. Geoffrey Levett is the hapless but determined fiancé, compared by bestselling author Alexander McCall Smith in his introduction to John Buchan’s Richard Hannay. Campion’s uncle, Canon Avril, is especially moving, with his refusal to abandon his gentle wisdom when he comes face-to-face with Havoc, ‘weeping in his weary rage’. And then there is the street band, a group of misfits, vulnerable and dangerous in equal measure, who share Havoc’s obsession with a nameless ‘treasure’ once spoken of by a comrade in the war. For McCall Smith, Allingham’s skilful depiction of the band says much about ‘the marginal ex-servicemen trying to survive on their wits in an unsympathetic world’. It is both for its ‘vivid characterisation and its social detail’, he writes, that The Tiger in the Smoke remains a classic.