(1904-1966) UK author, daughter of H J Allingham, best known for the long-running Albert Campion sequence of detective novels beginning with The Crime at Black Dudley (1929; vt The Black Dudley Murder 1930) and ending with The Mind Readers (1965). A further volume was completed after her death by her husband Philip Youngman Carter (1904-1969), who continued the series with two solo novels as Youngman Carter. Allingham was highly regarded as a "queen of crime" on a level with Agatha Christie and Dorothy L Sayers (1893-1957).
Albert Campion adventures verging on the fantastic include Sweet Danger (1933; vt Kingdom of Death 1933; vt The Fear Sign 1961), whose McGuffin is the title to a tiny Ruritanian kingdom somewhere on the Adriatic coast, and Traitor's Purse (1941; vt The Sabotage Murder Mystery 1943), which afflicts Campion with Amnesia and features a plausible, narrowly averted World War Two plot to wreck Britain's economy with a huge influx of forged currency; the climax deploys a new wartime Invention, a super-explosive yielding devastating effects from a tiny, egg-sized grenade. The Mind Readers is a mystery in which a group of children communicate by a genuinely sf-like form of Technology-based Telepathy facilitated by the newly discovered Element nipponanium. Its exploitation by schoolboys distantly anticipates the Internet: trawling other minds for answers, to the detriment of mental health, rather than doing one's own classwork. Campion also appears in a number of short stories including the Christmas fantasy vignette "Word in Season" (in Mr Campion's Lady, omni 1965), in which his dog briefly acquires the power of human speech. Some non-Campion ghost stories are included in Mr Campion's Lucky Day and Other Stories (coll 1973).
Mention should be made of Youngman Carter's first solo novel in the Albert Campion sequence, Mr Campion's Farthing (1969), based on an outline by Allingham: the hotly sought McGuffin of this quirky thriller is a Soviet-developed Drug that compels suicide. [DRL/JC]
see also: ESP.
Margery Louise Allingham
born Ealing, London: 20 May 1904
died Colchester, Essex: 30 June 1966
works (highly selected)
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