Margery Allingham and the Golden Age of Crime Writing
05 june 2017
Between the wars female crime writers such as Agatha Christie, Dorothy L Sayers and Margery Allingham enjoyed great success. Many of these authors continued writing until the 1960s and 70s and their detectives and amateur sleuths – Christie’s Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, Sayer’s Lord Peter Wimsey and Allingham’s Albert Campion are much loved literary characters to this day.
Margery Allingham began writing in her teens but didn’t experience real success until 1929, when her first crime novel The Crime at Black Dudley was published. This is the first novel that features Detective Albert Campion, although not in a starring role. Over the next three decades, Margery Allingham wrote nineteen books that feature Campion, the most acclaimed of which, The Tiger in the Smoke and Sweet Danger have now joined the Macmillan Collector’s Library in hardback, with exclusive new introductions.
The Tiger in the Smoke
Set in the fog bound streets of post war London, The Tiger in the Smoke is a dark and twisted story which features ruthless killer Jack Havoc. As Sara Paretsky explains in her introduction, which is exclusive to the Macmillan Collector’s Library edition, ‘Today’s crime writers often dwell on the inner workings of their serial killers minds but Allingham’s focus is quite different. She doesn’t care about his minds or motives; her interest in Havoc’s effect on a series of communities.’
Sweet Danger by contrast is set largely in the countryside, where Allingham herself lived much of her adult life. And whilst Albert Campion plays a small part in The Tiger in the Smoke this unassuming aristocrat is central to unravelling the complex mystery at the heart of Sweet Danger. As Val McDermid describes it in her wonderful introduction ‘ The story itself is a roistering fantasy of heroes and villains, of creepiness and craziness, of romance and romanticism’.