Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Mr Campion's Falcon - Youngman Carter

Margery Allingham and her husband Philip Youngman Carter would often talk through her books as she was developing them, so he was intimately familiar with the characters, the style, and the underlying ‘feel’ of her work. When she died, he completed her final book and wrote two more; one based on an idea of his wife’s and this.

For all his familiarity with his wife’s work, this is not an attempt to reproduce what she had done. Her voice is there, in the background, along with what they must have shared (such as a sense of humour), but this is distinctly Youngman Carter’s book.

Rather than go for a complex psychological portrait, this is a thriller with a reasonably complex plot, in which Albert Campion is allowed to be his age. The elements of the plot and the characters are fairly typical of this kind of book, but Youngman Carter handles it all with ease.

The writing itself does not push any boundaries as Margery Allingham was wont to do. A steady style and straightforward narrative are used to tell a well-thought out story. This may seem unremarkable, but the simplicity of the entertainment we are offered is a rarity these days and this work (from 1970) is all the more refreshing for it. A worthy successor to Margery Allingham’s Campion books.