Thursday, June 5, 2014

Mr. Campion's Farewell by Mike Ripley

First Sentence:  “I find it shocking,” said Clarissa Webster.
      
Albert Campion is now married and not as young as he once was, and even the butler Lugg is now retired.  Yet Albert goes off to the picture-postcard village of Lindsay Carfax for a visit with his niece.  

Fairfax is an odd town with nothing to draw people there.  The main fact of interest is what they call “the nine days wonderful” with odd things happening that relate to the number nine and that the town is controlled by a group called “the Carders.”
      
The story begins with a caution and intriguing talk of what happens to those who doesn’t listen.  The stage is set, and Campion is perfectly described.  However, this is a case where having a cast of characters would have been very helpful. 
      
There isn’t a slow moment in the story.  Events happen one-after-another.  Even though some are in the past, the re-telling of them adds to the mystery of the present.  Yet learning how all these things connect is the mystery.
      
It’s a hard task for a new author to pick up a well-known series written by someone else, yet Ripley does a more-than-credible job of it.  Having the gap in time of the story and the age of the character does help quite a bit.  Even so, he portrayed Campion well.  The voice, both in the narrative and dialogue, were true to character.  Even the exchange with Campion’s wife, Lady Amanda, is classic…”And I distinctly remember thinking “Zounds! I’ve been shot.” But after that it all goes rather dim.”  ““Zounds”?  Anyone who thinks that ought to be shot and “dim” is a particularly apt description for your predicament…”
     
  “Mr.Campion’s Farewell” is a delightful read and an intriguing mystery.  There’s a lot happening and it all ties up quite satisfactorily in the end.   For those who love the golden-age British classics, Ripley does an excellent job of portraying the characters, style and charm with the same flair.  The original books by Margery Allingham are still the best, but this is a rare exception to my conviction that characters should die with their authors.  Bravo, Mr. Ripley. 

MR. CAMPION’S FAREWELL (Mys-Albert Campion-England-Contemp/1969) – VG+
Ripley, Mike -
Severn House, 2014

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