Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Police at the Funeral

Campion uses his detection skills and solves the mystery before the cops

The cover of the newest available edition of Police at the Funeral
The cover of the newest
available edition
Mr Albert Campion is asked by Joyce, the fiancée of one of his friends, to trace a distant relative she calls Uncle Andrew, who has gone missing from the house in Cambridge where they both live.

But before Campion and Joyce have even left London for Cambridge, they find out that the body of Uncle Andrew has been found in a river. He had been bound hand and foot with cord and shot in the head.

In this fourth novel to feature the mysterious Mr Campion, the author, Margery Allingham, allows hints to be dropped by one of the characters that Campion is from a prominent British aristocratic family, giving the reader a tantalising clue about who he really is.

Campion takes Joyce back to Socrates Close, the large old house where she lives with her Great Aunt, Caroline Faraday, the widow of a famous Cambridge academic, and the other members of the strange and dysfunctional family, who she helps Mrs Faraday to take care of.

Then Campion goes to see his old friend Marcus Featherstone, who is a solicitor and Joyce’s fiancĂ©, to get some background about the case. When Marcus asks for his professional assistance, Campion says: ‘I must warn you. I’m no detective, but of course I’m open to help. What d’you think I can do for you exactly?’ This is interesting because although we see him go on to use his skills to solve the murder, he clearly does not see himself as a detective.

From the previous novels, we know that Campion is well-educated, with quiet authority and that he is not afraid to put himself in danger to help others. He lives above a police station in London with an eccentric manservant and is reputed to be a good man to call upon in a crisis. He appears to be more of a gentleman adventurer than a private detective.

Nevertheless, he goes to Socrates Close to meet the formidable Caroline Faraday, who, because she thinks she knows his family, invites him to stay.

He uses his skill and experience to work out what is going on at Socrates Close when a second member of the family dies and another one is injured while they are both still inside the house.

Peter Davison played Campion in a BBC TV adaptation of Margery Allingham's novels
Peter Davison played Campion in a BBC TV
adaptation of Margery Allingham's novels
Campion follows up the clues he finds, such as the mysterious symbol drawn on the outside of one of the library windows and a huge footprint found in the flower bed below.

Although he works alongside his policeman friend, Stanislaus Oates, a senior Scotland Yard detective, it is Campion who works out what has been happening in the house and exposes the person responsible.

Police at the Funeral, the fourth Campion novel, was published in Britain in 1931 and is the first of the series not to have organised crime as a plot element. Instead, it is about a wealthy family living together in a big house who are constantly having petty squabbles. It is the first real detective story by Margery and is considered by many of her readers to be one of her best novels. 

She was later judged to be one of the four Queens of Crime, along with her contemporaries, Agatha Christie, Dorothy L Sayers and Ngaio Marsh, who were also writing during the Golden Age of detective fiction.

Police at the Funeral is available from or


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