First published in 1968, this is the book which Margery Allingham was writing when she died, her husband, Youngman Carter used her notes to finish it. For me this is a disappointing book on several fronts. Firstly it’s set in the 1960s and involves rival gangs of youngsters in Essex, the sort of thing which was still going on in the 1970s when I lived there for a few years, then it was rockers and skinheads who arranged mass fights at seaside resorts such as Clacton-on-sea. Somehow that all seems very un-Allingham like to me. As always, I prefer the 1930s, 40s and even 50s.
Campion and Lugg are both getting on by this time of course and for that reason it seems quite sad, they’re past their prime by a long way.
I wasn’t really enamoured of any of the other characters, even the romantic interest in the shape of a young American student Mortimer Kelsey and an English lady doctor was very tepid. Gosh I can’t even remember her name and I’ve already taken the book back to the library.
In fact if I had read the blurb on the back prior to borrowing the book I would probably have put it back on the shelf. I have a habit of inadvertently reading the last books of authors. The same thing happened to me when I read a Hornblower book (C.S. Forester) – and when I got to the end it just said that that was as far as it went as the author had died. Serves me right for not reading them in order!
It all makes me think that Allingham must hardly have started the book when she died and her husband just decided to press on regardless, presumably as it had already been accepted by the publisher.