Literature: Albert Campion
Mr. Albert Campion
Coups neatly executed.
Nothing sordid, vulgar, or plebeian.
Deserving cases preferred.
Police no object.
Albert Campion is the protagonist of a series of novels by Margery Allingham; outwardly a Rich Idiot with No Day Job
but in reality a Gentleman Adventurer who is willing to sell his skills to anyone in trouble
. Aside from his enquiring mind and deductive abilities, his main attributes are his incredible range and depth of contacts, ranging from low class criminals up to the Chief Constables of a number of police forces and his ability to insinuate himself anywhere and get along with pretty much anybody.He was assisted on most of his adventurers by Magersfontein Lugg — a burglar turned valet.
A television adaptation, Campion
, debuted in 1989. It featured Peter Davison
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Novels in this series
- "The Crime at Black Dudley" (1929), also known as "The Black Dudley Murder".
- "Mystery Mile" (1930).
- "Look to the Lady" (1931), also known as "The Gyrth Chalice Mystery".
- "Police at the Funeral" (1931).
- "Sweet Danger" (1933), also known as "Kingdom of Death" and "The Fear Sign".
- "Death of a Ghost" (1934).
- "Flowers for the Judge" (1936), also known as "Legacy in Blood".
- "The Case of the Late Pig" (1937).
- "Dancers in Mourning" (1937), also known as "Who Killed Chloe?".
- "The Fashion in Shrouds" (1938).
- "Traitor's Purse" (1941), also known as "The Sabotage Murder Mystery".
- "Coroner's Pidgin" (1945), also known as "Pearls Before Swine".
- "More Work for the Undertaker" (1948).
- "The Tiger in the Smoke" (1952).
- "The Beckoning Lady" (1955), also known as "The Estate of the Beckoning Lady".
- "Hide My Eyes" (1958), also known as "Tether's End" and "Ten Were Missing".
- "The China Governess" (1962).
- "The Mind Readers" (1965).
- "Cargo of Eagles" (1968). Novel left incomplete due to the death of Allingham in 1966. Completed by her husband Philip Youngman Carter.
- "Mr. Campion's Farthing" (1969) by Philip Youngman Carter.
- "Mr. Campion's Falcon" (1970) by Philip Youngman Carter. Published posthumously as Carter died in 1969.
Regular & Recurring Characters
- Beware the Silly Ones: Campion may compulsively joke, tell facetious stories, and make the most inane entrances, but you touch a client or someone he's taken a liking to, and you will go down.
- Black Sheep: he's estranged from most of his family, partially because he actually cares about and wants to help people and partially how he goes about doing so.
- Break the Cutie: One of the early chapters in Coroner's Pidgin mentions how, because of what he saw in World War II, he'll never be quite as carefree again. Sadly, this was Truth in Television for a lot of people who saw service.
- British Teeth
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: His quirks, especially noticeable in the early works, lead others to wonder how anyone could seriously have referred them to him for help. His quirks do tone down as he gets older (though he never can quit the compulsive quipping).
- Character Tics: Campion's facial expressions become more vague and foolish when he's figured out something and very often when he's about to do something badass.
- Chronic Hero Syndrome: Occasionally lampshaded by Lugg or Campion himself.
- Class Clown: Campion was implied to be this in school and college.
- Cool Old Guy: Campion becomes one of these by the end of the series.
- Cultured Badass
- Deadpan Snarker
- Did Not Get the Girl: Until Amanda, all of the women that Campion is interested in end up falling in love with one of his friends or clients.
- Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: He tends to do this in a comedic manner. Needless to say, whatever Big Bad is in the story does not usually take this well
- Distinctive Appearances: The minute you hear reference to a 'tall man', a 'thin man', or a 'pale man', you know who it is because no one is referred to in that way except our hero.
- Doesn't Like Guns: due to that he'd rather not have the temptation to kill anyone, however he does carry one when jobs look to be dangerous and is, in fact, a very good shot.
- Embarrassing First Name: His real name is Rudolph, and he hates it and has done his very best to make people forget it, requiring he be called "Albert" at least as far back as college if not before then.
- Fat and Skinny: The skinny one when pretty much next to anybody, but especially next to Lugg.
- For the Funnyz: Campion can rarely resist the compulsion to make a funny, especially in the earlier books.
- Frames of Reference: In a double subversion of Smart People Wear Glasses, Campion purposely wears overly large spectacles to emphasize his non-intelligent appearance (he does, however, apparently need them for seeing long-distance).
- Gentleman Adventurer: Unlike most of the type though, he does have bills to pay and several stories start with Campion agreeing to help someone for free and Lugg wondering how Campion's going to be able to afford to do so.
- Gentleman Detective
- Gentleman Snarker: Especially as he gets older.
- Gray Eyes: described as pale, actually.
- Guile Hero
- Happily Married: When he and Amanda finally do.
- Heroic Self-Deprecation: Doesn't express it too much, but you find out when he writes one of his adventures himself (despite doing his best to not spoil the story with any 'damned modesty' since he was quite 'brilliant in it') that he's actually very critical of himself, doesn't see himself as a hero, and tends to get hung up on any perceived failures or mistakes he makes.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: with Lugg.
- I Have Many Names: Campion has used many pseudonyms; even 'Albert Campion' itself is a pseudonym. (It's eventually revealed that his first name is Rudolph, and implied, but never outright stated, that he is really the bastard son of King George V.)
- Knight in Sour Armor: Not an incredibly blatant version because he tends to hide both his idealism and his disillusionment under a rain of jokes and quips, but when you do get to see beneath it, he is very much this trope.
- Living Legend: Becomes this in certain circles by the end of the books.
- Magnetic Hero: Despite his quirks, compulsive quipping, and foolish manner, most people find themselves somehow looking for him to come up with a plan or following his orders without question. Is lampshaded in several books.
- Motor Mouth: In the earlier books he often goes into long complicated jokes or making up a long string of funnies on the fly, often resulting in a pre-emptive or mid-sentence collective "Shut Up!" from whatever group of people he's with even if they do respect him and know he's more than he appears.
Marlowe Lobbett: "I say, do you always talk like this?"
Mr. Campion: "Almost always. People get used to it in time. I can't help it, it's a sort of affliction, like stammering or a hammer toe. My friends pretend they don't notice it."
- Mysterious Past
- Sad Clown: Often uses funnies to relieve the stress of situations and hide his inner workings.
- Self-Deprecation: Doubly subverted. He'll make some sort of statement about his life, fame, heritage, or abilities that's so outrageous it's obvious he's being ironic.
- Sharp-Dressed Man
- Smarter Than You Look: By the time you realise he's not as dumb, silly, or flighty as he looks, it's too late. Far, far too late.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: One of Campion's greatest weapons. He knows how people perceive him and he'll ramp it up to eleven to enforce that image if it means he's more likely to be underestimated.
- The Social Expert
- Stealth Insult: It's fairly common for him to slip these somewhere in the middle of his usual compulsive joking.
- Technical Pacifist: Campion has a 'rule' not to kill — mostly because he doesn't want to have that on his conscience and partly because of his arrangement with the police — but he's quite ready to punch people into the wall. And the table. And the bookshelf...
- The only exception to the 'rule' was in the book "Traitor's Purse" in which he is a secret agent during World War II, though he one time did accept a government job where part of his contract was he would have to kill an agent from a vicious international art-stealing ring (though he ended up not having to do so).
- The Trickster
- Verbal Judo: Campion becomes quite good at this as he ages.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: with Lugg. If they're not insulting each other, then something is wrong...
- We Help the Helpless: and his card reads: "Justice neatly executed. Nothing sordid, vulgar, or plebeian. Deserving cases preferred. Police no object."
- Badass Moustache: what Lugg thinks it is (and he's probably pretty justified). Campion, however, can't take it seriously.
- Basso Profundo: In contrast to Campion's tenor voice and fast-paced chatter, Lugg has a very, very deep, sepulchral voice.
- Battle Butler
- Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: He likes to make out that he's this in regards to Campion.
- Cordon Bleugh Chef
- Fat and Skinny: The fat one.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: with Campion.
- The Lancer
- Not Allowed to Grow Up: Allingham inadvertently never really aged Lugg throughout the books (which span thirty years or so), and she even lampshades it in one of her short stories in which she meets up with Lugg and asks him why he doesn't age. After she realized she hadn't been making him age, she just shrugged and let him keep going as he was except for making his moustache white. By the end of the series he should be somewhere in his eighties, and still looks like he's in his fifties.
- Older Sidekick
- One of the Kids: Tends to be this whenever he's around kids, making Campion both amused and sometimes frustrated.
- Personal Mook: to Campion.
- Reformed Criminal: He used to be a cat burglar.
- Sarcastic Devotee
- Sour Supporter
- Stout Strength
- Vitriolic Best Buds: with Campion. If they're not insulting each other, then something is wrong...
- Birds of a Feather: Campion and Amanda are both highly energetic in mind and body, love to joke around a lot, love adventure, and are not concerned about sticking to their "proper" roles.
- Genki Girl: In her first appearance and the only person who can keep up with her is Campion (or, rather, they're the only ones who can keep up with each other); she slows down a bit in the later novels.
- Heroes Want Redheads
- Plucky Girl
- Redhead In Green: In her first appearance.
- Significant Green-Eyed Redhead
- Single Woman Seeks Good Man: While not ugly, Mr. Campion is not the most handsome man; Amanda fell in love with his intelligence, wit, humour, and his dedication to helping others.
- Skilled, but Naïve: is this in her first appearance. When she and Campion meet up again years later, she's matured and is the perfect partner for Campion.
- Spirited Young Lady
- Technological Pacifist: Averted. During WWII she designs and builds war planes.
- Women Drivers: Averted. Amanda is a magnificent and elegant driver, one of the first things Campion notices about her and finds attractive when he has amnesia in "Traitor's Purse."
- Wrench Wench: Is extremely good at fixing, designing, and building mechanical things. She is actually the chief airplane designer at Alandell Aeronautics and prefers getting her hands in actually assembling the engines.
Thos. T. Knapp
Canon Hubert Avril
- Badass Pacifist: And how!
- Cloudcuckoolander: Not a very blatant one, more tends towards being forgetful while thinking about something he considers more important, like washing his hands before going out after getting blood on them.
- Cool Old Guy
- God Is Good: Believes this in contrast to Charlie Luke who doesn't believe there's a god and if there is He doesn't care.
- Good Is Not Dumb: Charlie Luke is actually a bit surprised by this. Canon Avril is highly intelligent and you can see where Campion got his enquiring mind and perception from (and even where Campion got his snarkiness, it's just Avril can control it).
- Good Shepherd
- Happily Married: Or was until his wife died a few years before he shows up in the books.
- Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Of the more rounded sort (to others or even the reader - until you see inside his head - he can appear not so rounded). He struggles with things but he makes the right (or at least as right as he can perceive) decision.
- Odd Friendship: With Charlie Luke.
Augustus "Guffy" Randall
- Blatant Liar: Is really a most terrible liar.
- Dirty Old Man
- Honorary Uncle: To Campion.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Is very narcisstic but very childlike and loyal to those he considers his friends.
- Man Child
- The Munchausen: He wrote his memoirs, but he decided his life was so boring that he needed to spice it up 'a bit.' He got caught out for doing so, of course, and brought to court but people were so amused by him and his fictional adventures he ended up quite well off between the book selling like mad and a stage-play being made of it.
These books provide examples of:
- Accent Depundent: The clue to the answer of who Simister is (Alistair "Ali" Barber), is likely to take American readers a moment or two to 'get' it.
- Affably Evil: Several of the villains.
- Alone with the Psycho: Canon Avril is alone with a serial killer, on purpose! Badass Pacifist, indeed.
- Amnesiac Hero: Campion in "Traitors Purse". Possibly first amnesiac secret agent who must find out who he is, and what he forgot that is so important so he can stop an evil plan during World War II.
- Asshole Victim: Most of them.
- Author Avatar: The short story "A Border-Line Case" is essentially a conversation between Campion, a police detective (I forget which one), and the Narrator, whom the others call Margery.
- Author Existence Failure: Allingham passed away in the middle of writing a Campion novel. It was finished by her husband Phillip Youngman Carter, who later wrote two more Campion novels of his own. They're remembered as pretty mediocre, if they're remembered at all.
- Bald Woman: Mrs. Munsy.
- Battle Butler: Lugg and Scatty Williams.
- Bavarian Fire Drill: Campion sometimes engineers these.
- Big Damn Heroes: In "The Crime at Black Dudley" Guffy Randall and The Hunt, of all things
- Big Damn Kiss: Campion and Amanda after thwarting a plot by Nazis that could have brought the U.K. to its knees.
- Big Screwed-Up Family: The Faradays.
- Black Sheep: Campion, his sister Valentine, and if they're any indication of what their family frowns upon, probably Canon Avril as well.
- Bluffing the Murderer: Done by Campion quite a bit (he uses Type 3 a lot because a lot of times that's the only way he feels that others will be safe).
- Body Double: At the end of "Mystery Mile" Campion is asked to do this apparently again for a foreign prince, and he uses one for himself in "Sweet Danger".
- Bookcase Passage
- Breakout Character: Campion was originally a supporting character in a relatively interesting spin on a manor murder mystery which, frankly, wasn't that great. The main character ended up as The Watson in the same book, simply because Campion was such fun to write.
- Broken Messiah: Campion when seriously contemplating ignoring his ideals, i.e. seriously contemplating pointing the authorities toward his client so he could steal the man's wife, even falling into a Heroic BSOD and putting on some pretty thick Jade-Colored Glasses, but he's brought back to himself in the next book via Love Redeems.
- Child Prodigy
- Chivalric Romance: The whole book "Look to the Lady" is filled with many a Shout-Out to chivalric romances, especially King Arthur and Orlando Furioso, and considering the subject matter it is somewhat justified but there is much more in there than necessary or that the casual modern-day reader would notice.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Richie Barnabas. Canon Avril is a mild one. Gilbert Whippet appears to be one, but is actually more a case of Brilliant but Lazy and Smarter Than You Look.
- Cool Car: Campion's red Lagonda he gets (finally replacing his broken-down, falling apart old Bentley) in "Flowers for the Judge".
- Creepy Mortician: Jas. Bowels in "More Work for the Undertaker."
- Cruel and Unusual Death: To the BigBads in both 'Mystery Mile' and 'Sweet Danger'.
- Death by Childbirth: Charlie Luke's wife.
- Disguised in Drag: Campion in "Sweet Danger" so as to avoid being instantly recognisable by his enemies and friends from a distance; leads, of course, to one of his many hilarious entrances.
- Double Speak: Whenever Campion calls up his contact in L.C. Corkran's Government Agency of Fiction.
- El Cid Ploy: Campion plays this in the beginning of "Sweet Danger" in order to try to draw the villains into the open.
- Eldritch Abomination: The guardian of the Gyrth Chalice, according to legend, though perhaps the only one that really knows for sure is now dead (and if the legend is true, because of the guardian).
- Subverted in that same story with the creature of Pharisee's Clearing.
- Everybody Smokes
- Friend in the Black Market: Campion and Lugg have more than a couple of these.
- Friend on the Force: Stanislaus Oates and Charlie Luke are the most notable, however there are a few others.
- Fun with Acronyms / Punny Name: Roland Isidore Peters the victim in "Case of the Late Pig" who faked his death once and then made trouble in a small town, then was murdered and his body stolen. Now go back and read his initials again.
- Genre Adultery: The Campion books might be billed as mystery stories, but Margery Allingham often switched between genres (helped by the fact that Campion was quite versatile). Sure, she had whodunnits and country house murders, but there were also adventure novels, thrillers, comedies of manners, secret agent thrillers, mild science fiction, and mild fantasy/horror.
- Genteel Interbellum Setting: About half of the books are set during this time and like this.
- Government Agency of Fiction: What Campion works for during and after World War II.
- Hairpin Lockpick: Campion employs this several times (usually borrowing one from a female companion), though he prefers his real lockpicking tools.
- Holding the Floor: Campion is very, very good at this and it's saved his and many others' lives, either while he maneuvers into a favourable position or is waiting for backup. One character mentally comments that this is probably one of Campion's "chief stock in trade."
- Honorary Uncle:
- Lugg to Rupert.
- William Faraday to Campion.
- Campion terms himself 'universal uncle', making himself honorary uncle to everyone.
- Iron Lady: Mrs. Faraday.
- It's for a Book: Campion says that Eager-Wright (to Eager-Wright's chagrin) is doing this so he and Eager-Wright (and Guffy Randall) can ask questions without being too suspicious in a small town.
- I Uh You Too: Campion's proposal to Amanda (after having been "engaged" to divert suspicion from those who might get suspicious of their spending a lot of time together) effectively amounts to: "I wouldn't mind, if you wouldn't mind, if you wanted to keep the engagement ring on in its official capacity."
- Join or Die: A choice given to Campion a couple of times.
- Kids Are Cruel: When asked how Campion knew Roland Peters, Campion gives a short bit of backstory about how he and Peters attended the same school as young children and that Peters once sliced off three square inches of skin off his (Campion's) chest and held him over an unlit gas lamp until he passed out.
- The Killer Becomes the Killed: In "Crime at Black Dudley" and in "Flowers for the Judge" (by a Sympathetic Murderer).
- Kill It with Fire: How the Big Bad in "The Crime at Black Dudley" intends to kill his hostages, and how Campion deals with the menace in "Traitor's Purse"
- King Incognito: Subverted in so many ways in "Sweet Danger." Campion pretends to be royalty (which, as one character noted Campion may actually be ) obviously undercover.
- Knife Nut: Captain Jack Havoc
- Let Off by the Detective: Campion does this to Richie Barnabas and Abbershaw does this to Wade Petrie.
- Let's Get Dangerous: Campion, of course, especially in "The Crime at Black Dudley" where everyone has taken him for a idiot and a coward (for his whimsical Deadpan Snarking of all their plans for escape), then single-handedly rescues Abbershaw and Meggie, in an attempt to fight back against their captors efficiently takes down one of the toughest mooks all on his own while it takes three of the other men to take out the other, then takes out Dawlish's The Dragon, all after being tortured for information.
- Life Imitates Art: After World War II, Margery Allingham was told that the diabolical Nazi plan that Campion has to stop in "Traitor's Purse" was something that the Nazis had actually tried to do.
- Lights Off, Somebody Dies: In 'The Crime at Black Dudley' and 'Death of a Ghost'.
- Locked Room Mystery: In "Flowers for the Judge."
- Love Triangle: Crops up a few times and is generally written in a contemptuous fashion so the reader doesn't sympathize with those involved. Most notably the one between Campion, his client, and his client's wife (see Broken Messiah for how this ends up affecting Campion) in "Dancers in Mourning", and the one between Campion's sister, Amanda's boss, and an actress in "The Fashion in Shrouds" (which tends towards the Psychotic Love Triangle end of things) against which the non-possessive and rather sweet romance of Campion and Amanda is juxtaposed.
- Loving a Shadow: Campion is afraid Amanda is in love with the idea of him being the perfect hero rather than with his true self (failings and all) and though (when they first met) she might have started out her crush that way she's much too practical to stay that way for long and soon assures him that she's in love with him and not such a shadow.
- MacGuffin: The Gyrth Chalice in "Look to the Lady". The Crown, the Charter, and Metternich's Receipt in "Sweet Danger". The telepathic devices in "The Mind Readers." The golden Eagles in "Cargo of Eagles."
- The Mentally Disturbed: Campion is occasionally taken for this.
- Morally Bankrupt Banker: In "More Work for the Undertaker"
- New Old Flame: Janet Pursuivant
- Noodle Incident: Campion and Thos. T. Knapp's previous times working together
- The 'other' time Campion body doubled for a prince in order to draw out and catch people who were trying to kill his highness. Also qualifies as a Offscreen Moment of Awesome twice, because he does it again, again offscreen.
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Most of World War II, where it is implied Campion was something of a Badass spy/secret agent and possibly something of an Ambadassador, but we only get to see a little of his wartime activities in "Traitor's Purse."
- Old Dark House: Black Dudley
- Old Flame Fizzle: Campion rather apprehensively meets up with Janet Pursuivant now Janet Whippet at a party some years after having married Amanda, wondering if he'll still be attracted to her, only to realise what we did all along: that she's not bright and would have been an incredibly bad match for him.
- Older Hero vs. Younger Villain: Campion (in his sixties) having to fight a murderer who is not only nearly half his age, but a master of martial arts.
- One of the Kids: Campion and Amanda seem to take turns with who is to be the responsible adult after they have Rupert (Campion and Rupert plan involved gags on Amanda and Lugg, and Amanda can oft be found playing a cheerful and rather destructive game of tag with Rupert). Lugg is this whenever he's around children.
- Punny Name: Max Fustian
- Quirky Household: What happens when Campion and Amanda get married, and even more so when they occasionally stay at Campion's uncle's (Canon Avril) house.
- Recruiting the Criminal: Thos. T. Knapp
- Relationship Upgrade: Campion and Amanda at the end of "The Fashion in Shrouds."
- Rightful King Returns: Suberted and played straight in the same book, "Sweet Danger". Campion pretends to be the earl of Pontisbright and king of Averna to draw the villains into the open, then by the end of the book he's found (and crowned) the rightful heir.
- In "Police At the Funeral" Campion can't resist wearing a deerstalker cap to impress a client and jokes around with Stanislaus Oates by pretending to deduce all about someone from the sound of their footsteps.
- In "The Case of the Late Pig" Campion is asked if his unusual butler saved his life in the war.
- Smoke Out: Campion uses his homemade smoke bombs to smoke the criminals out of a house which his friends had charged into against orders on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
- Spy Speak
- Suicide, Not Murder: In "Police at the Funeral," but not only does Andrew set up his own suicide to look like murder, he leaves behind lethal booby-traps to kill off his relatives and they succeed in killing two of them.
- Sympathetic Murderer: Wade Petrie and Richie Barnabas
- A Taste of the Lash: Happens 'off-screen' in "The Crime at Black Dudley" after Campion makes a fool out of the Big Bad that has him held hostage.
- Telepathy: "The Mind Readers"
- 10-Minute Retirement: Campion briefly attempts to retire to accept a well-paying, stuffy, boring job so as to provide a steady income for his family, but he soon gives this idea up (much to Amanda and Lugg's relief) when several people (all unrelated to each other) ask for his help in solving a mystery.
- Undercover as Lovers: Campion and Amanda in "The Fashion in Shrouds", though by the end of the book the engagement is for real.
- The Unreveal: Campion's identity; subverted when in "The Crime at Black Dudley" Abbershaw thinks he's finally figured out who Campion is, then uses the name to try to shock Campion, but it's just another of Campion's aliases.
- Unsuspectingly Soused: Campion has this done to him when Bluffing the Murderer (Type 3) he accepts a dinner invitation and is manipulated by the Magnificent Bastard into having a cocktail. The cocktail however reacts with the rare wine the murderer had specially ordered at the restaurant, and causes Campion to become soused. Fortunately Campion had asked Inspector Oates for a few plain clothes policemen to watch over him, otherwise the murderer would have gotten away with pushing the inebriated Campion beneath a train.
- The Vicar: Swithin Cush
- Villainous Widow's Peak
- Weird Aside: Campion, Amanda, Whippet, and the occasional old woman tend to do these.
- What, Exactly, Is His Job?: A lot of people wonder that about Campion.
- Winds of Destiny, Change: Capt. Jack Havoc and Canon Avril are both what Havoc calls 'Watchers'