Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Estate of the Beckoning Lady by Margery Allingham

Two deaths occured within a short time in a peaceful region of Suffolk. William Makepiece Faraday, a distinguished writer of librettos died an apparently natural death at the age of 82. Another man died and was dumped  beneath a bridge where his body would lie for eight days until he was discovered.

Albert Campion, his wife Amanda, and son Rupert were in the neighborhood of these deaths because they were preparing for the Midsummer Day party given by their good friends, Minnie and Tonker Cassands. Minnie was a well known artist under the name of Miranda Straw. Tonker always seemed to be busy although I never was quite sure what he did. Minnie and Tonker lived in the beautiful estate of the Beckoning Lady which was a very charming house in the the lovely Suffolk Countryside. Also in the neighborhood was Divisional Detective Chief Inspector Charles Luke who was convalescing in the nearby village of  Pontisbright from a recent injury incurred on his job. The Chief Inspector seemed to have fallen in love with a young lady named Prune and she with him.

Albert Campion examined the pills that Faraday was taking and discovered that they contained a drug which would be fatal to someone who drank as much as Faraday did. After the other body was discovered, it was found to be that of Leonard Terence Ohman, a retired tax collector. He had been helping Minnie and Tonker with their tax problems,  and his advice was that the only solution was to get a divorce. The whole situation was complicated by the nearby Pontisbright Estates which really wanted to own the Estate of the Beckoning Lady.

How the two men came to die was explained at the end by Campion. The emphasis in this book is not on the solving of the crimes. Rather there is a rather detailed description of the Midsummer party which may give the reader much more information about it than they want. Many characters in this book are called by their nicknames such a Old Harry, Prune, and Pinkie which made reading a bit difficult, and the use of dialect also adds to the difficulty. I do not think that this is one of Allingham's better books.

This book was published in 1955 and is available currently as an e-book.

I have read this book for the Vintage Cover Scavenger Hunt in the category of a book with a policeman on the cover.




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