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3.0 out of 5 starsExcellent...with exceptions.
Reviewed in the United States on December 26, 2018
As always, loved the Campion mystery by Allingham. She’s a marvelous writer! Witty fun dialogue, characterization and the usual twist at the end, are all hallmarks of her writing. This is a pivotal book introducing Campions sister and references to his family of origin status. Yet, I must warn perspective readers! Two reasons caused this book to be reviewed as 3 star rather than 5, both representative of the the English early to mid-20th century timeframe in which this book was written. Dialogue is often littered with English slang words whose meaning Americans must guess at. Luckily, Kindle has a Search option to enlighten the reader. Second, and the more troubling (in this book especially), some dialogue sequences are distastefully written with racial slurs and innuendos that would not be tolerated if written today. Again, the timeframe in which this series was written reflects the general white upper-class mind-set more than others of Allingham had written. I found one scene so distasteful that I had to close the book for awhile to get the taste of it out of my mouth. Remembering the timeframe and refocusing on the storyline and richness of the general writing drew me back to finish the book. If a reader cannot digest and expel these racial slurs , I recommend reading other Campion books by Allingham. If however, readers can separate themselves from these references, I highly recommend this book. Regardless, I highly recommend the series written by a marvelously talented and enjoyable author.
5.0 out of 5 starsLove stirs up trouble at the upper levels of fashion, theater & business
Reviewed in the United States on October 14, 2018
Albert Campion’s Sister Val, a haute couture fashion designer, falls in love with the very masculine owner of an airplane factory. Actress Georgia Wells falls in love with the same man, and, being charming, magnetic and beautiful, has no difficulty luring the fellow away from Val.
Georgia is lucky in love. The men in her life die conveniently whenever she falls in love with a new man. It’s the peculiar death of Georgia’s current husband that first interests Campion. He brings all his powers of intelligence and deviousness to bear on this case, because his sister Val is under some suspicion.
First published in 1938, The Fashion in Shrouds has all the features of great Golden Age Crime fiction — puzzling deaths, colorful characters, heartrending romantic entanglements, lugubrious police inspectors on the wrong track, and a gentleman sleuth wearing himself out in the pursuit of a dangerously clever murderer. The intricate plot reveals Campion to be as good an actor in his way as Georgia, and it’s almost the death of him...
Valentine Feris is a designer of one of London’s top fashion houses. She finds herself falling in love with the owner of an airplane manufacturing company, until stage actress Georgia Wells manages to mesmerize the man.
Wells has something of a history: her first fiancé disappeared and his remains only found very recently. He had killed himself. She’s married to something of an obnoxious aristocrat, whom she met while she was engaged. And now she’s on to Val’s boyfriend.
This is a Margery Allingham mystery novel, and you might expect Georgia to become a murder victim. Instead, her husband is killed, and superficial evidence points to Valentine and a case of a poisoning meant for Georgia going wrong.
Fortunately for Valentine (nicknamed Val), her brother is Albert Campion, the amateur detective known for his ability to solve difficult cases. In fact, it is Campion who finds the body of the unfortunate suicide.
Allingham’s “The Fashion in Shrouds” was originally published in 1938, and it is just as entertaining and intriguing today as it was almost 80 years ago.
The author wrote numerous mysteries and other works, and what’s interesting about this one is how much attention is paid to the descriptions of the characters. At times, the narrative becomes a series of almost psychological character studies. We get inside the characters’ heads in ways I haven’t seen in the previous Allingham novels I’ve read.
Campion finds himself solving a nest of crimes connected to the suicide and murder, while desperately trying to keep his sister from being arrested. He moves from the glamour of high society fashion and hotels to the low life of Soho dives. And he eventually finds himself in personal danger.
“The Fashion in Shrouds” is an excellent, satisfying mystery, showing Allingham at the height of her writing power.
The Fashion in Shrouds by Marjorie Allingham continues the series of detection by Albert Campion. In it we meet his sister Valentine, a well known designer in one of Britain's top fashion houses. The plot is full of twists and turns. Val's brother, Mr. Campion has just discovered the long missing remains of the fiance of a famous actress. The actress, and client of the fashion house, has apparently turned her attention away from the man to whom she is now married when she meets the man Val has been going out with. He also is the employer of Amanda Fitton whom Allingham readers will recognize as Mr. Campion's teen- age "Lieut" ,now grown up and an aeronautical engineer. Also in the group of persons is a famous hotelier as well as theatrical personalities. When the actress's husband dies in mysterious circumstances, there are plenty of suspects. How Mr. Campion and his supposed fiancee, Amanda, solve the many problems makes for a superb mystery created by a master of the art.
What a wealth of characters created by Margery Alllingham! She is the author to read when you want to get lost in a clever plot & in the atmosphere of crime solving in the ' 30 ' s. No fingerprint database, DNA, cell phones, computer research - just plodding on chasing clues until the genius of Albert Campion steps in! He builds knowledge as he stays in the background studying people & makes his plans with Scotland Yard's Stanislaus Oates & the help of another disillusioned peer, Amanda Fitton, to catch a murderer at work! Step back in time to enjoy one of the best in the golden age of mysteries!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 20, 2018
I first read this when I was 14 in 1960 - I was too young to appreciate the characters involved but enjoyed the mystery. My copy of the Penguin paperback finally went into the recycling bin so I bought a new one from Amazon. I've re-read it and believe that at the age of 71 I appreciate the quality of the writing, the intricacy of the plot and the characterisation of the Dramatis Personae a great deal better. This is a very good novel; I was reminded of Alfred Hitchcock films.
The last time I reviewed this book, I said that the abridged version read by the brilliant Jeremy Nicholas was better than the complete version. Allingham herself thought the book overwritten, and cut 25,000 words from it for the 1965 re-issue. 25,000 precious words by one of the best novelists of the 20th century! When I found this out (from the excellent biography by Julia Jones), I ordered a pre-1965 copy and am reading it now. She was wrong to cut it - the full version makes much more sense. So what did she cut? Some dated attitudes to women and Africans, and a lot of the characters' motivations. It's a complicated story and all the main characters face unwelcome truths about themselves, their closest friends, society and humanity. The full version makes much more sense of a central character, the femme fatale Georgia Wells. She springs off the page and you feel her charm, warmth and predatory nature. You understand the physical pull she has - she is always grasping people's hands or putting an arm round their shoulders (and invading their space). She is horribly fascinating and larger than life. The autobiography also shows a the shadowy reality behind Allingham's story. It reads as if she has used raw emotions of her own - her husband was probably serially unfaithful to her, she was a successful businesswoman making her way in a man's world. Even though I have read the shortened version several times, I am finding it a page-turner. She was a brilliant writer who inhabited the same world as Greene, Dickens, Dickens and Conrad.
Pacy;complicated;entertaining;puzzling;.Full of life ,character ,excitement and mystery.A slice of life as it used to be ,a look at the class system in all its glory and intrigue . Totally un-putdownable.What a race to the end!Thankyou Margery Allingham you've done it again!
Albert Campion's sister, Val, is a fashion designer who finds herself mixed up in the unexplained death of actress, Georgia Wells' husband. Georgia is a femme fatale who seems to attract just about every man she meets including Val's friend Alan Dell, a plane designer. Coincidentally the body of Georgia's former fiancé who disappeared some years ago has also been found. Could Georgia be more than just the selfish vamp she definitely is?
I enjoyed this complex mystery with its portrayal of nineteen thirties society. I liked Campion as a characters and I also liked his sister, Val. The ending of the book was a complete surprise to me as I had identified someone else as the murderer but when you look back at the story there are plenty of clues as it who the murderer actually was.
These older mysteries written during the Golden Age of British crime fiction stand the test of time very well in my opinion. `The Fashion in Shrouds' is particularly well plotted and the characters are believable. The writing is of a high standard - higher than that of some modern crime writers. I recommend this book to anyone who hasn't yet tried Margery Allingham's Albert Campion stories.
It's not about undertakers. The nascent high fashion world of the late 1930's is the setting. Three deaths revolve around the gorgeous super-model of her day. Campion's sister is the high-flying fashion designer who draws him into the world of haute couture where the filthy rich have secrets they would rather keep in the cupboard and/or closet.
Apparently, this was close to Allingham's real life as her hubby was editor of Tatler and this shows as it becomes a bit self indulgent and wordy on the subject. My main disagreement with some other reviewers is that it lacks pace.
Better to savour an insight into an elitist world. More 'literary' than Sayers/Christie and it benefits from time spent on it as it veers more to crime novel than crime thriller.
A good read for its historical setting. If you are fully paid up in the P.C. brigade you will find one or two shockers here! Sedate, one to slowly savour but not one for pace or crash-bang excitement.