Saturday, November 19, 2011

Review: The Case of the Late Pig

Albert Campion is a gentleman inspector in the style of Dorothy Sayers's Lord Peter Wimsey. Here Campion finds himself investigating the death of a former classmate. Pig Peters was a nasty child who grew into a nasty adult. Few people are sorry to see him die, even if he does appear to die twice. Campion attends Peters's funeral after reading a notice in the newspaper. Months later he happens upon a second funeral, also purported to be that of Pig Peters. The second time around Campion views the body in the morgue. It is unmistakably Peters. Who was buried at the first funeral? How did one or two people meet their death? These are the questions Campion sets out to answer.

While reading this I was struck by the many similarities between Campion and Lord Peter Wimsey. Both are sons of minor gentry waiting to inherit. Both are dilettantes assisted by faithful valets. I found Campion's valet, Lugg, somewhat difficult to
comprehend. He is presented as a large, hulking, almost ogre-like man who dons aprons and makes tea. I was unable to figure out how and why he is with Campion. Presumably this is explained earlier in the series. Jumping into the middle of the series made it somewhat difficult to understand all of the characters' quirks.

This book is notable among recent mysteries I've read in that its ending is wholly satisfying. Generally when I read mysteries I enjoy the build-up and then find the ending to be a disappointment. With this book I had the opposite reaction. There were points where I got bored with the build-up, but the ending was full of suspense and intrigue.

Margery Allingham, The Case of the Late Pig (Felony & Mayhem, 2008, orig. 1937) ISBN: 1934609145

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