I love Margery Allingham so I was pleased to have the opportunity to read this new collection of four short stories, all with a festive theme. The title is slightly misleading as only three of the four stories feature Albert Campion, but they are all quite enjoyable in their different ways. They are also very short, so perfect for readers with busy Christmas schedules who just want something quick to read!
The first story, On Christmas Day in the Morning, was my favourite and involves Campion investigating the death of a postman hit by a car on Christmas morning. The culprits have been identified, but the evidence provided by local residents is confusing and Campion must decide whether the suspects and the victim really could have been in the right location at the right time for the accident to have taken place. It’s not much of a mystery, but I found it a sad and poignant story which reminded me of how lonely some people feel at Christmas.
Next we have Happy Christmas, probably the weakest story in the book, in which a young couple with a passion for the 19th century decide that they would like to have a traditional Victorian Christmas. Campion doesn’t appear at all in this story and I’m not sure that it really belonged in this collection. I’m not entirely sure what the point of it was, although I do love the idea of a Victorian Christmas.
The Case of the Man with the Sack is a more conventional detective story. Albert Campion is celebrating Christmas with friends at their country house when a theft takes place – and the main suspect is Santa Claus. This is a slightly longer story than the others, so there’s more time to develop the plot. Of course, it can’t compare with a full-length Campion mystery, but it was interesting enough to hold my attention until the end.
Finally, there’s Word In Season, a lovely but unusual tale about Campion and his dog, Poins. Did you know that, according to myth, animals are given the power of speech in the final hour of Christmas Eve? I didn’t, but that’s what this final story is about.
These four Christmas stories were obviously ideal for the time of year and I did find them entertaining, but I thought they were too short to be completely satisfying. I’m looking forward to reading some more of Allingham’s longer novels soon.
Thanks to Agora Books for providing a copy of this book for review via NetGalley.
14 thoughts on “Campion at Christmas by Margery Allingham”
I have a copy of this in my Christmas pile as well. I’m not all that fond of short stories but I do love Campion. I think it might be one of the last that I get round to.
I’m not very fond of short stories either and find full-length novels much more satisfying, but these were still quite entertaining. I hope you’re enjoying your Christmas reading.
I really liked Happy Christmas, even with no Campion. It felt the warmest of all of the stories to me – the most obviously “Christmassy.” I think my favorite of these was The Man With the Sack, although I’ve read it before in one of my other Christmas mystery anthologies.
Yes, that was a very Christmassy story. I just felt that it was slightly out of place among the three Campion stories. The Man With the Sack was a good one too and I hadn’t come across it in any other anthologies.
Sometimes short stories can be a little too short. But at least you found them entertaining, and they matched the season! Hope you had a Happy Christmas! 🙂
I did, thank you. I hope you had a great Christmas too! Short stories are nearly always too short for me, but yes, at least these were fun to read. 🙂
I’ve read a few Campion novels. He always seems so enigmatic.
I agree – I still don’t feel that I really know him as a character.
Thank goodness my cats didn’t start speaking to me – that would have turned my hair grey(er)!! But now I’m worried if they were talking about me behind my back… 😺😺
Haha – if they were, I’m sure it would be all nice things! 🙂
I don’t remember ever reading about Campion having a dog!
I also have The Case of the Man with a Sack in at least two collections, but not the other stories, so I will be looking for a copy of this.
Maybe the dog only appears in that one story – I haven’t read enough Campion yet to know!
I did not hear any dogs speak on Christmas Eve but last night (Boxing Day right?) the neighborhood dogs all went off right after dinner. Barking though, not talking.
Well, maybe they were talking to each other. 🙂 That was a weird story – I hadn’t read about that myth anywhere before!