Wednesday, 1 April 1998

Margery Allingham: The Case of the Late Pig (1937)

Edition: Penguin
Review number: 17

This is an unusual member of Allingham's Campion series, as it is told in the first person from Campion's point of view. This, to me, makes it immediately more successful than some others in the series, by avoiding what I consider to be Campion's most annoying fault. In many of the books, I find there is too great a credibility gap between Campion's silly-ass public persona and the true, intelligent crime fighter underneath. ("Mild mannered janitor by day, Hong Kong Fuey...")

Campion receives a cryptic anonymous note which invites him to the funeral of a man he knew from school (and disliked), R.I. Peters, known as "Pig". (Few other writers would name the corpse in a detective novel with the initials RIP - this is before the days of Reginald Iolanthe Perrin.) He attends the funeral, intrigued by the note.

A few months later, Campion receives another note, and then is asked by a friend to go to the village of Kepesake where a man has been murdered. The corpse turns out to be Pig, who is already dead. So Campion has to work out how he was buried the first time round, how he came back to life, and why he died again. And then the corpse goes missing...

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