Literature: Albert Campion
aka: Margery Allingham
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.
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'