I have read and enjoyed several of the Margery Allingham short story collections which have been reissued by Agora Books recently; The Allingham Minibus is the latest and my favourite so far.
This collection was first published posthumously in 1973 and has also appeared under the title Mr Campion’s Lucky Day. However, that title would be quite misleading as there are eighteen stories in the book and only three of them actually feature Allingham’s famous detective, Albert Campion. Of these, I have already read the Christmas-themed The Man in the Sack (which was included in Campion at Christmas), but the other two were new to me and I particularly enjoyed The Unseen Door, a locked room mystery with a simple but clever solution.
The rest of the stories in the book cover a range of genres, not just the crime fiction with which Allingham is usually associated. Many of them are ghost stories or have a supernatural element of some sort and all of these were excellent; they were the perfect kind of supernatural stories for me – unsettling and unusual, without being too creepy. I won’t talk about all of them here, but three that stood out for me were Bird Thou Never Wert, about a woman who buys a haunted bird cage, She Heard It On the Radio, in which a lonely old lady develops an obsession with listening to the radio, and He Was Asking After You, where a man who betrays his best friend finds himself unable to escape his friend’s vengeance.
One of my favourite stories in the collection was The Pioneers, the story of a married couple who both meet someone else and decide to get divorced. On their last evening together, while they prepare to go their separate ways forever, some friends come to visit, with unexpected results. I loved this one! Actually, the only story in this book that I didn’t like was A Quarter of a Million, a crime thriller which should really be described as a novella rather than a short story as it was more than twice as long as most of the others. The length, and the fact that it seemed less tightly plotted than the rest, made it feel out of place in this collection.
With the exception of that one novella, then, I really enjoyed The Allingham Minibus – and the introduction by Agatha Christie was a nice little bonus.
Thanks to Agora Books for providing a copy of this book for review via NetGalley.
10 thoughts on “The Allingham Minibus by Margery Allingham”
It’s a pity that, of the four “Crime Queens,” Allingham has become the most neglected, since I always thought she was arguably the best of them. Many thanks for helping keep her in the public eye!
I prefer Agatha Christie, but I have enjoyed the little I’ve read of Allingham’s work (sadly not enough). I’m glad to be able to bring her to the attention of other readers!
Well, this is fun. I didn’t even know Margery Allingham wrote anything but Campion mysteries. The supernatural stories sound like something I’d like to read.
Her short story collections are quite varied. I would definitely recommend this one.
I’m not sure about the supernatural stories, but I think I’d enjoy some more Campion stories.
There are only three Campion stories in this collection but they are all good ones.
This sounds like fun! I’ve never read any of he ghost stories – didn’t know she’d written any, in fact. I feel I must hunt this one down… 😀
This is the best of the three Allingham short story collections I’ve read so far. The ghost stories aren’t all that ghostly, really, but they were fun and all had a clever twist at the end.
Oh, I like the sound of this very, very much!
I think it’s a great collection with a good variety of different types of story.