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Margery Allingham's elusive Mr. Campion is a little slower to grow on me than I expected him to be at first, but that may just be a structural problem with Police At the Funeral. The plot is moving forward a little unevenly just now -- there's been another murder while the investigation into the first is just getting started. Maybe it's just my lack of familiarity with contemporary stereotypes, but I found the Indian student witness less cringe-worthy than I was expecting. The student's clothing choices are patronizingly noted, but maybe not much worse than a white New Zealander's would be, and while the narration is clearly making fun of him for thinking he's such an excellent detective, he is an excellent detective whose eye for detail is well worth his self-satisfaction in displaying it. And remarkably, nothing at all is made of his complexion one way or the other. There's the usual sprinkling of casual racism elsewhere in the text.

By far the most memorable character right now is Aunt Caroline Faraday, an impossibly formidable matriarch who has maintained her household of aging idle ex-rich relatives in a fixed state of intolerable discipline for decades. She is a cartoon in some ways, but her abstraction is imposing and alienating rather than comfortable. Also, apparently "Albert Campion" is a pseudonym, and he is really someone called Rudolph whom Mrs. Faraday recognizes instantly because she knows his grandmother. That was a little funny. You can't fool people who know your grandmother! The pacing of this one is stop-and-go: sometimes I'm totally engaged, other times I'm sleepwalking. But the engaging parts are good enough to keep the whole ball rolling.

In other books, Death of a Peer* might be my favorite Inspector Alleyn book yet. Alleyn is in even better form than usual, which is saying something, and the Lamprey family are charming, awful, and a little chilling. I loved when they switched to talking in French to confound the policeman who was left in the room with them, only to be FOILED BY THEIR OWN CLASSISM when the policeman turned out to have lived in France for fifteen years. Take that, you adorable parasites!

I'm really hoping the murderer doesn't turn out to be the exotic outsider from spoooooky Eastern Europe, though.

*The original title was A Surfeit of Lampreys, which is much more interesting and gives you a better sense of what the book is actually like -- crowded, slippery, and witty.

And in not-books, the Doctor Who episode "Mummy on the Orient Express" (S8, episode 8) is one of the best-ever episodes of one of the best shows I have ever seen on television. Gorgeous, scary, hilarious, sad, and chock full of all my favorite sci-fi and detective-novel tropes smashed up into a dazzling kaleidoscope. There's a mystery on a train! The train is in space! The mystery is also the human heart! Except the Doctor is actually an alien with two hearts, for DOUBLE THE MYSTERY. Five billion stars, would watch forever.

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
lost_spook
Aug. 19th, 2015 04:29 pm (UTC)
I'm lacking brain, so I'll leave a lot of little hearts all over the post and just say that while I often really enjoy Allingham, I was always up and down with it, and never felt I quite got the books until I saw the TV show & was, like, "Oh, so it's supposed to be humorous!" (I can't remember which my favourites are, though - Sweet Danger and Traitors Purse, for reasons, but there were others.)

I am so glad you're enjoying S8; I was delighted with most of it. It might even be my favourite New Who series. (Listen is my five million stars one, but the Robin Hood and Mummy and Flatline are not all that far behind.)

ETA: I suspect you probably know by now which part of this post I was guiltily amused at. ;-p

Edited at 2015-08-19 04:30 pm (UTC)
evelyn_b
Aug. 19th, 2015 08:14 pm (UTC)
I've been so impressed by S8 (especially now that I've seen all of it! <3) Listen was amazing, too. So many great episodes, so much character development!

ETA: I suspect you probably know by now which part of this post I was guiltily amused at. ;-p

Are you referring to the SURPRISE RACISM EXPLOSION! at the end of Police at the Funeral?

* * * s u r p r i i i i s e * * *

never felt I quite got the books until I saw the TV show & was, like, "Oh, so it's supposed to be humorous!"

I feel like this one was a little the opposite -- I was set up to expect loads of narrative wittiness and Celery Club shenanigans, and then it almost immediately settles into "occasionally mildly amusing." I don't mind that I'm not quite sure yet what Campion's deal is, but the narration in this one felt like it was only intermittently witty, and intermittently a little dull. But it's early in the series (I don't think it's the very first book, but not far off?) and I might just need to make some mental adjustments. We'll see what happens with the next couple of books!
lost_spook
Aug. 19th, 2015 08:22 pm (UTC)
Yay! Look at you, all up to date and with an icon!! ♥ I can't wait for S9.

And, oh, gosh, no, I couldn't remember a thing about Police at the Funeral; it was another bit. Oh, dear, though. :-/

only intermittently witty, and intermittently a little dull.

Hmm, maybe it wasn't just me, then. Because I felt like that, except some of them were really good. And there was one of the later ones that was so dull I couldn't read it, but that might be because I was getting ill, as there were a whole bunch of books at that time that were all so dull I couldn't read them and I don't think the problem was really the books.
evelyn_b
Aug. 20th, 2015 12:40 am (UTC)
It's way too early to tell if this is a one-book problem (or a problem at all), so I'm going to defer commenting on Allingham's writing until I've read a little more. No doubt I will have plenty more to say in the near future.

S9 is going to be amazing! I hope? I've never been let down yet! (so maybe I'm due??) I don't know; I'm just going to be excited and trust in the future.

Capaldi and Coleman were ON FIRE this season. I was a little iffy on Clara in S7, but somehow the new Doctor + new chemistry just kicked the whole thing into high gear and now I wouldn't trade her for anyone (though Who being Who, I'll have to eventually anyway).
lost_spook
Aug. 20th, 2015 07:38 pm (UTC)
The S9 trailer is pretty cool - I'd say we should still be in for a treat! :-D
scripsi
Aug. 19th, 2015 08:19 pm (UTC)
I saw the TV-series Campion this summer and nejoyed it a lot, so I lan to 8finally) read the books... Not that som eof my friends haven't told me to do so for a decade or so...

I agree, Mummy on the Orient Express is a really, really great episode.
evelyn_b
Aug. 20th, 2015 12:41 am (UTC)
How are you liking the Campion books? For me, it's still too soon to tell.

ETA I just realized that what you probably typed was "plan to read," not "ran to read," so will amend the above to: I hope they're awesome and you enjoy them!

I haven't actually seen the show yet, but I have it on good authority that it stars Peter Davison, aka one of my favorite Doctors (that I've only actually ever seen in one 7-minute mini-episode). So I will have to watch it eventually even if I don't end up reading all the books.

Edited at 2015-08-20 12:46 am (UTC)
scripsi
Aug. 20th, 2015 01:52 pm (UTC)
Yes, that was me being sloppy when I spelled- it was supposed to be plan, of course. :)

Oh yes, Peter Davison is pretty adorable in it and not too unlike Five (who is one of my favourite Doctors too). The show is supposedly very true to the books, though I can't tell yet, of course.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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