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The Tiger in the Smoke

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A fog is creeping through the weary streets of London—so too are whispers that the Tiger is back in town, undetected by the law, untroubled by morals. And the rumors are true: Jack Havoc, charismatic outlaw, knife-wielding killer, and ingenious jail-breaker, is on the loose once again.   As Havoc stalks the smog-cloaked alleyways of the city, it falls to Albert Campion to A fog is creeping through the weary streets of London—so too are whispers that the Tiger is back in town, undetected by the law, untroubled by morals. And the rumors are true: Jack Havoc, charismatic outlaw, knife-wielding killer, and ingenious jail-breaker, is on the loose once again.   As Havoc stalks the smog-cloaked alleyways of the city, it falls to Albert Campion to hunt down the fugitive and put a stop to his rampage—before it’s too late . . .   “Allingham’s work is always of the first rank.” —The New York Times


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A fog is creeping through the weary streets of London—so too are whispers that the Tiger is back in town, undetected by the law, untroubled by morals. And the rumors are true: Jack Havoc, charismatic outlaw, knife-wielding killer, and ingenious jail-breaker, is on the loose once again.   As Havoc stalks the smog-cloaked alleyways of the city, it falls to Albert Campion to A fog is creeping through the weary streets of London—so too are whispers that the Tiger is back in town, undetected by the law, untroubled by morals. And the rumors are true: Jack Havoc, charismatic outlaw, knife-wielding killer, and ingenious jail-breaker, is on the loose once again.   As Havoc stalks the smog-cloaked alleyways of the city, it falls to Albert Campion to hunt down the fugitive and put a stop to his rampage—before it’s too late . . .   “Allingham’s work is always of the first rank.” —The New York Times

30 review for The Tiger in the Smoke

  1. 5 out of 5

    Beverly

    This was a reread for me as I recently bought a lovely hardcover edition at a library sale. It was as wonderful as I remembered, with colorful, well thought out characters and a malevolent murderer. One of Margery Allingham's best, this is a psychological mystery in which the existence of evil is discussed and also goodness. The tiger of the title is the killer and the smoke is the other very important element, the London fog, without which his crimes couldn't be so efficiently accomplished. This was a reread for me as I recently bought a lovely hardcover edition at a library sale. It was as wonderful as I remembered, with colorful, well thought out characters and a malevolent murderer. One of Margery Allingham's best, this is a psychological mystery in which the existence of evil is discussed and also goodness. The tiger of the title is the killer and the smoke is the other very important element, the London fog, without which his crimes couldn't be so efficiently accomplished.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Bruce

    This is a thriller, not a detective novel, and a superb one. The holding back of one star is because I deem the thriller genre, defined as a tale focused primarily on danger and pursuit, to be inherently limited. Tiger boasts, however, a nugget of theological drama which, if it had been integrated into the fabric of the novel more thoroughly, might have raised it into the same class as Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment. The killer, Jack Havoc (this is not a spoiler), follows what he calls "the s This is a thriller, not a detective novel, and a superb one. The holding back of one star is because I deem the thriller genre, defined as a tale focused primarily on danger and pursuit, to be inherently limited. Tiger boasts, however, a nugget of theological drama which, if it had been integrated into the fabric of the novel more thoroughly, might have raised it into the same class as Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment. The killer, Jack Havoc (this is not a spoiler), follows what he calls "the science of luck" which brings him nothing but good fortune if only he will be disciplined enough never to be "soft" (i.e., compassionate or kind). The nugget to which I refer is his encounter with a clergyman who explains what his science of luck really is. This scene is not a didactic interruption, but an integral part of the plot, and would render the book worth reading even if everything else were mediocre. Fortunately, the rest of the book is a tautly written, captivating narrative filled with Allingham's usual warm humanity.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂

    3.5★ This is only my second Allingham and is reputed to be her best work. Based on this I may not go to any extraordinary effort to find any more of this author's works. The beginning was quite wonderful where we are introduced to the widowed Meg and her new swain Geoffrey. Allingham in a little note before the book begins says she means London is "The Smoke." But it certainly feels like the "pea-souper" fogs are The Smoke and it becomes almost another character in this book which is set just after 3.5★ This is only my second Allingham and is reputed to be her best work. Based on this I may not go to any extraordinary effort to find any more of this author's works. The beginning was quite wonderful where we are introduced to the widowed Meg and her new swain Geoffrey. Allingham in a little note before the book begins says she means London is "The Smoke." But it certainly feels like the "pea-souper" fogs are The Smoke and it becomes almost another character in this book which is set just after World War Two. Wonderful characters are introduced and there are many vividly written descriptive scenes, but some plot details don't make much sense and there are long periods where the story drags. I didn't have any trouble putting this book aside for days.Above all (view spoiler)[even Meg's dead husband treats her like a child and, in a letter assumes she will always be a child - so patronising (hide spoiler)] A promising idea let down by an untidy execution.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    This is the fourteenth novel in the Albert Campion series and was published in 1952. The book begins with Meg Elginbrodde and Geoffrey Levett in a taxi. Levett is a wealthy businessman, used to getting what he wants and he is desperately in love with Meg and intends to marry her. The problem is that since their engagement was announced, Meg has been receiving photographs from her husband - who she believed had died in the war. She has turned to Campion and Detective Chief Inspector Charles Luke This is the fourteenth novel in the Albert Campion series and was published in 1952. The book begins with Meg Elginbrodde and Geoffrey Levett in a taxi. Levett is a wealthy businessman, used to getting what he wants and he is desperately in love with Meg and intends to marry her. The problem is that since their engagement was announced, Meg has been receiving photographs from her husband - who she believed had died in the war. She has turned to Campion and Detective Chief Inspector Charles Luke for advice, when a meeting is proposed between her and her former husband. The man she glimpses across the fog bound platform of a station is certainly not her husband, but the mystery deepens after he is questioned and released. What follows is an extremely atmospheric mystery; set in a post-war, weary London in a middle of a pea souper fog. As events escalate, Levett goes missing and witnesses are killed. A convict called Jack Havoc has escaped from prison – he is hunting a “treasure”, while Luke and Campion search for him in the “Smoke,” which is the fog bound city of London. There are some wonderful characters, such as the saintly Canon Avril, the brilliantly named Tiddy Doll and the elusive Havoc himself – the Tiger of the story. I had only read one Campion novel before and I found myself a little lost so far into the series, as obviously you were meant to know some familiar characters. However, Campion himself did not feature strongly in the book, meaning that it worked quite well as a stand-alone story. London itself – battered, weary, down at heel – is almost a character in itself. Everyone stumbles around, unable to see and events are revealed slowly, almost as glimpses through the fog. If you are interested in London shortly after the war, then this novel gives you a great view of the City at that time and is worth reading just for the historical aspect of the book. Rated 3.5 Having re-read this, I did find it a little more understandable. I don't think the series will ever be a favourite - I am not overly fond of the gangs and deadly secrets type of novel and prefer the drawing room type mystery, rather than haring about the country looking for treasure. However, I do like Campion as a character and I will continue to complete the series. However, my rating would probably stay the same.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Antoinette

    I find this a hard book to review cause it didn't impact me one way or another. It says it is an Albert Campion mystery, but he was pretty nonexistent for the whole book. The mystery seemed to solve itself. For a book of this size, there certainly were an awful lot of people to meet. Having never read a book by this author, I did wonder if I would have benefitted from reading earlier works. What I did like about the book was the atmosphere the author created. The book starts with a classic pea s I find this a hard book to review cause it didn't impact me one way or another. It says it is an Albert Campion mystery, but he was pretty nonexistent for the whole book. The mystery seemed to solve itself. For a book of this size, there certainly were an awful lot of people to meet. Having never read a book by this author, I did wonder if I would have benefitted from reading earlier works. What I did like about the book was the atmosphere the author created. The book starts with a classic pea soup fog, which is unsettling everyone. We meet Meg and Geoff who are trying to get to the train station, but are being slowed down by the fog. Everything seems affected by this damn fog. The author spends more time on the criminal element of the book than the detectives and people being affected. They were well fleshed out- the others not so much. As stated Albert Campion was barely there. Learnt nothing about him which was disappointing. The mystery itself was reasonably entertaining. I definitely wanted to see how it would conclude. Would I recommend this book- not really. But there are lots of people who raved about this book, so maybe it just wasn't for me.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Gary

    This review contains minor spoilers. Reputed to be one of Margery Allingham’s finest novels, The Tiger in the Smoke is an intelligent crime and detection novel set in a unique period of time – just a few years after World War II; a time when poor people were still very poor and had a rough life, when most men were ex-servicemen – many with terrible memories of violence and many having committed them for their country – at what cost? A time when London was plagued by smog (though that term was not This review contains minor spoilers. Reputed to be one of Margery Allingham’s finest novels, The Tiger in the Smoke is an intelligent crime and detection novel set in a unique period of time – just a few years after World War II; a time when poor people were still very poor and had a rough life, when most men were ex-servicemen – many with terrible memories of violence and many having committed them for their country – at what cost? A time when London was plagued by smog (though that term was not used when this book was written, so it is called simply ‘fog’). The fog/smog lends a darkness and opaqueness to many scenes in the story and permits the gang of ‘baddies’ move around unnoticed, aided by the fact that they are a motley crew ostensibly just begging loose change from the public. The title refers to the principal murderer moving around in London, which is often known, even today, as The Smoke. This man is a psychopath with, we are told, no hope of redemption, though a clergyman in the story believes everyone is worth the time and effort to be saved. There is a moving and atmospheric scene when his desire to help this troubled young man overcomes his fear of danger, leading to interesting and realistic consequences. Other than the murderer, the main characters are amateur (I think) investigator Albert Campion, Allingham’s most well-known creation; a clever and resourceful police detective named Charlie Luke (who often steals the scenes); and Geoffrey Levett, a former army officer, cool customer and thoroughly good egg. It is refreshing to read a crime novel in which the detective is not a bumbling idiot easily bettered by the private dick but actually experienced, intelligent and good at his job. The story unfolds slowly and although we are given clues along the way it is difficult at first to figure out any motive for what is happening. Ultimately it feeds into hidden treasure and the bond between men involved in a clandestine and violent special operation that took place during the war. As the pieces begin to fit together we learn more about the characters, their histories, fears, capabilities and their dreams and desires. Allingham draws her characters well, giving them a history, depth, motives/drivers and a rationale for their actions. These ring true and are what raises this novel above many others of the genre. Sometimes I can watch a film and a character may do something that obviously puts them in danger and I think why on earth would they do that? In this story, Allingham fleshes them out so well that you understand those reasons and can respect them for it. There is a lot of action and ‘derring do’ in this book but also subtlety, thoughtfulness and intelligence. I loved it. Five stars. Interestingly, the book I read before this one was Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare, which was all about SOE and the men who undertook secret missions that were small-scale but hugely important to the war effort. These men, some of whom were unsavoury characters used for expediency’s sake (there is a war on you know!), were highly trained, including in techniques of silent killing and the methods of most easily taking out an enemy. This was fresh in my mind and fed into this story, adding a bit more weight to it for me.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Theresa

    From the very first, this book gripped me. Margery Allingham discloses a mystery right from page two when Meg and her fiance are presented with a dilemma. Meg's first husband, Major Elginbrodde, thought to have died during the war, has suddenly resurfaced, just days before Meg's wedding. Thankfully Meg has resources available to her, and she immediately turns over the case to Detective Albert Campion. But even with the aid of Campion and the expertise of the local police force, Meg is going to ta From the very first, this book gripped me. Margery Allingham discloses a mystery right from page two when Meg and her fiance are presented with a dilemma. Meg's first husband, Major Elginbrodde, thought to have died during the war, has suddenly resurfaced, just days before Meg's wedding. Thankfully Meg has resources available to her, and she immediately turns over the case to Detective Albert Campion. But even with the aid of Campion and the expertise of the local police force, Meg is going to take some very foolish (naive?) actions on her own initiative. "Amanda saw her dark figure silhouetted against its pallid square of light for an instant. Then she was gone. The other girl remained where she was, listening. She heard the faint whine of the drawing-room-door hings, and a single step on the wood. Then there was a long silence, followed by a movement in the bedroom immediately below her. The intruder must have come up the stairs without her hearing a sound. She stifled her breath and was aware of the noise of her own heart, and this irritated her. The British burglar is not as a rule the bravest of men, and she knew that should he discover her as his torch beam wheeled across the unfurnished room, the chances were that he would be far more startled than she. But despite all reason she was trembling." A hidden treasure, a cottage in France, a clever kidnapping, a bewildered-always-one-step-behind police force, and the London fog all work together in this incredibly fast-paced, suspenseful novel. The author cleverly uses the weather (that London fog!) to add atmosphere to the story: "This morning the fog was thicker than ever. Twenty-four hours of city vapours had given it body and bouquet, and its chill was spiteful." and, "If the fog had only cleared, tempers might have cooled, but now, at the end of the second day, it had become the father of fogs, thicker and dirtier and more exasperating than any in living memory. The only people who were not astounded by it were visiting Americans, who innocently supposed the capital to know no other weather and took its inconvenience in their good-natured stride." There are so many approaches one could take to review this multi-faceted novel. The author weaves together several themes but the one that seemed most prominent as I read this book was the age-old (as long as time itself!) dilemma of good and evil. Could Jack Havoc be at all redeemable? Canon Avril thinks he can, and his own instrically good nature compels him also to (foolish too?) action. When one reads "The Tiger in the Smoke", it is not only the atmospheric tension that draws the reader in. The author effectually reveals the motivations of the human heart and the variety of personality within a net of coincidence that cleverly reveals the culmination of the story. "Normally he was the happiest of men. He asked so little of life that its frugal bounty amazed and delighted him. The older he grew and the poorer he became, the calmer and more contented appeared his fine gentle face. He was an impossible person in many ways, with an approach to life which was clearsighted yet slightly off centre, and therefore disconcerting to most of his colleagues. No one feared him, simple people loved and protected him as if he were daft, and he had exasperated more great churchmen than any other parson alive." Margery Allingham has been designated as one of the four queens of crime (can you guess the other three? Sayers, Marsh and Christie are all Golden-Age favorites). Let me just say that, if you haven't picked up Margery Allingham yet, give her a try. After enjoying Allingham's expertise, my only dilemma now is deciding what to pick up next. (Perhaps another Allingham mystery will fit the bill!)

  8. 4 out of 5

    Abigail Bok

    I had largely forgotten this masterpiece, which seems extraordinary in this moment, when I have just finished it and am still caught in its thrall. Allingham was forever probing the boundaries of the mystery genre, and in The Tiger in the Smoke she threw out the rules entirely. There is no mystery here, other than the mystery inherent in humans’ failure to fully understand one another; the series hero, Albert Campion, plays only a minor observer role; and we spend almost as much time with the vi I had largely forgotten this masterpiece, which seems extraordinary in this moment, when I have just finished it and am still caught in its thrall. Allingham was forever probing the boundaries of the mystery genre, and in The Tiger in the Smoke she threw out the rules entirely. There is no mystery here, other than the mystery inherent in humans’ failure to fully understand one another; the series hero, Albert Campion, plays only a minor observer role; and we spend almost as much time with the villain as with the victims, so we know what he has done and why. And yet the story is gripping and suspenseful and you can’t look away as disaster hurtles toward you. The story begins almost on a sidebar. An engaged couple on their way to a train station. The bride-to-be has been getting messages purporting to be from her husband, who went missing during World War II and is presumed dead. Now she has been summoned to meet him on a train platform. The man is an impostor of course, and his motive for impersonating the lost husband never really adds up. It is one of several plot holes, and there are also massively implausible coincidences, but none of that matters. Because this is a tale that tackles the conflict between good and evil on an operatic scale, and verisimilitude is not the point. The atmospherics—throughout most of the book the characters are all stumbling about in a dense London fog—are so vivid and insistent that they might as well be one of the characters. The human characters, though, are just as vivid, especially the criminals. In her early books Allingham often relied on the shadow of a vague criminal underworld of supernatural capability lurking in the background; here those underworld figures come into the light and are revealed in all their shocking banality. She stares clear-eyed at all the harm that can result from excessive devotion to venial ideas, and counters that image with a heart-rending portrait of the opposite—the power and vulnerability of true goodness and largeness of spirit. I love this book’s ambition and the discipline that carries it off. In the face of that clash of cosmic forces, the actual plot, which involves a sort of treasure hunt, can’t really hold one’s interest, so the ending chapter or two feel a little anticlimactic. The war has already been decided and the final skirmishes are almost incidental. But the larger conflict is so riveting and its conclusion so gratifying that I was happy enough to return to earth in the end. If I were a graduate student I might want to choose as a dissertation topic the puzzling question of why in the 1950s, that deeply banal era, War in Heaven was such a recurrent theme in the popular literature. Perhaps it was a variant of PTSD—minds tuned to extremes of good and evil by the global conflict of the previous decade, returning over and over to the mental stimulus of those high-stakes years. Or perhaps I shouldn’t write book reviews at three in the morning.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Suvi

    London is enveloped by an almost apocalyptic smog that obscures everything, both physically and figuratively speaking. A murderer is wandering the streets, searching for a way to a treasure. Albert Campion is called to help on the case, but he doesn't really do much detective work, appearing instead as a distant character mostly hovering in the background. Misleading, because the series is supposed to contain Albert Campion mysteries. Campion isn't even his real name! Allingham does a lot of dwe London is enveloped by an almost apocalyptic smog that obscures everything, both physically and figuratively speaking. A murderer is wandering the streets, searching for a way to a treasure. Albert Campion is called to help on the case, but he doesn't really do much detective work, appearing instead as a distant character mostly hovering in the background. Misleading, because the series is supposed to contain Albert Campion mysteries. Campion isn't even his real name! Allingham does a lot of dwelling with the characters' personalities and their behaviour and whatnot, but the actual crime solving is left on the sidelines, whereas psychological ponderings take up a lot of space. I ended up feeling conflicted about the whole book, because Allingham is wonderful at describing London and the effect of the smog. The side characters obsessed with the treasure are bizarre, in a good way. My expectations just didn't click with what I got in the end, and one would have hoped the meditations on philosophical and theological issues had been more integrated into the actual story. Now they seemed disconnected, made reading a bit sticky, and stretched the plot unnecessarily (or more like halted it completely). On the other hand, Campion didn't seem to have a purpose in the story, so he could have been left out entirely without it affecting in any way to anything. However, despite the poor pacing etc., the gloomy atmosphere and the fascinating ending won me over, so I'll continue with the series. Maybe start from the beginning to see if the novels are any different there, or if Campion is introduced more comprehensively.

  10. 5 out of 5

    John

    A good story but more a thriller than detective story. Jack Havoc is a psychopath with a fixation on the code he lives by or the science of luck. Very atmospheric with the fog of London. The story starts with Megs husband apparently back from the dead. Jack Havoc escapes from prison. A gang of misfits accidentally kidnaps Megs fiancée. I loved the setting of a fog bound London very atmospheric and then the switch to a remote place in France. What follows is a roller coaster of murders and desper A good story but more a thriller than detective story. Jack Havoc is a psychopath with a fixation on the code he lives by or the science of luck. Very atmospheric with the fog of London. The story starts with Megs husband apparently back from the dead. Jack Havoc escapes from prison. A gang of misfits accidentally kidnaps Megs fiancée. I loved the setting of a fog bound London very atmospheric and then the switch to a remote place in France. What follows is a roller coaster of murders and desperation on both sides. Luke the detective running on gas vapors and Campion really only playing a minor role. A good story though and karma appears at the end.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Allie Riley

    Just excellent. Even if the true name of the villain of the piece made me laugh - it's not the author's fault a famous singer later bore the same name. Beautifully written. The smog seemed almost like a character in itself and the whole thing was very atmospheric. Campion himself didn't feature as much as he might have, but it still all worked admirably. The ending was perfect. Recommended. Just excellent. Even if the true name of the villain of the piece made me laugh - it's not the author's fault a famous singer later bore the same name. Beautifully written. The smog seemed almost like a character in itself and the whole thing was very atmospheric. Campion himself didn't feature as much as he might have, but it still all worked admirably. The ending was perfect. Recommended.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    Sometime in the 1980s my local paper, the San Francisco Chronicle, published the favorite mysteries of Dilys Winn, editor of Murder Ink and Murderess Ink, which are apparently companion volumes for fans. I used to clip the reviews of appealing new books with the intent of getting around to them — a pre-internet version of the To Be Read shelf. Like my TBR shelf here on Goodreads, that file got really thick, and most of the stuff in it was ignored and forgotten. But I recently decided to get rid of Sometime in the 1980s my local paper, the San Francisco Chronicle, published the favorite mysteries of Dilys Winn, editor of Murder Ink and Murderess Ink, which are apparently companion volumes for fans. I used to clip the reviews of appealing new books with the intent of getting around to them — a pre-internet version of the To Be Read shelf. Like my TBR shelf here on Goodreads, that file got really thick, and most of the stuff in it was ignored and forgotten. But I recently decided to get rid of some clutter, and got around to my files. Most of the stuff in the "Reading List" file went straight into the recycling bin, but a few caught my eye. One was a report I'd apparently requested and paid for on what books were considered required reading in American secondary education. I presumably wanted to double-check my literacy, and I see that I still haven't read many of those undoubted classics. If you want to take a look at the list, I turned it into one of Goodread's Listopias here. Anyway, this was one of the favorites listed on that faded newspaper clipping. And I'm glad I read it — it's really good. Not "literary classic" good, but a cut above most of the detective/mystery fiction I've read. It's probably been twenty years since I read any Agatha Christie, but based on vague recollections, I think I like this better. I think it has a better... er, dynamic range of personalities than I remember from Christie. Maybe not. What really struck me was that the people that populate this foggy London just after World War II seem closer in spirit to Dicken's London than our own. Some of the sad miscreants don't seem to have any counterpart in this modern world. That gives this a peculiar feel of a world times — now that coal is no longer a common fuel, even the legendary London fogs that provide such a mood within this story have now gone. I see from Wikipedia that the author died many decades ago, so I won't encourage you to buy a new copy of this, but see if it is available at your local library and spend a few evenings with this gem. ­

  13. 4 out of 5

    Susan in NC

    3.5 stars - Beautiful writing, and some gripping scenes and great characters, but I listened to the audiobook, and the actor’s regional accents and the slangy dialogue made some scenes virtually incomprehensible! Also, I think I am simply not a fan of the psychological thriller, I’m more of a fan of traditional Golden Age detective mysteries, like Agatha Christie’s books. Perhaps I wasn’t really in the mood to listen to this Campion mystery - the upcoming election has me glued to the news - maybe 3.5 stars - Beautiful writing, and some gripping scenes and great characters, but I listened to the audiobook, and the actor’s regional accents and the slangy dialogue made some scenes virtually incomprehensible! Also, I think I am simply not a fan of the psychological thriller, I’m more of a fan of traditional Golden Age detective mysteries, like Agatha Christie’s books. Perhaps I wasn’t really in the mood to listen to this Campion mystery - the upcoming election has me glued to the news - maybe I should’ve stuck with more escapist, fluffy reading! But I hadn’t read this before, the Reading the Detectives group was reading it, and I had read all of the previous Campion mysteries up to this one years ago. I bought the book back then, so I wanted to read it finally. I see why it’s regarded as perhaps her best mystery - the writing is very good and the descriptions of the London fog evocative. A young war widow is planning to remarry, but has been receiving fuzzy pictures of a man who looks like her dead husband in London crowd scenes - could he still be alive? Who would do such a thing? Meanwhile, a vicious prisoner has murdered several people and is on the run in the fog. There are a few close calls, where characters barely escape the dangerous psychopath, and I was on the edge of my seat! This one is more than a gripping mystery, there’s a lot going on about good and evil, love and loss and mourning. I know next time I read it, I’ll read the book and skip the audiobook, so I can appreciate the language more, and not be distracted by the slang and dialects.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    Margery Allingham was a contemporary of Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers and, as such, a member of the 'Golden Age' of detective fiction in the 20's and 30's in the UK. I have read some of Allingham's mysteries in the past and liked them, but this title disappointed or at least puzzled me. 'Tiger in the Smoke' finds Detective Albert Campion (Allingham's main detective character) tracking a vicious killer over several days through a very foggy London. The fog serves as a character in itself and Margery Allingham was a contemporary of Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers and, as such, a member of the 'Golden Age' of detective fiction in the 20's and 30's in the UK. I have read some of Allingham's mysteries in the past and liked them, but this title disappointed or at least puzzled me. 'Tiger in the Smoke' finds Detective Albert Campion (Allingham's main detective character) tracking a vicious killer over several days through a very foggy London. The fog serves as a character in itself and the weather descriptions are vivid if a bit over the top, imho. The style of writing is very odd, using descriptions and metaphors that just don't work or make sense to me. The book gets excellent reviews, referred to as one of the author's best works, so I think my reaction was purely personal and readers of classic English mysteries might like it if florid prose doesn't bother them.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    For being written in 1952, I think The Tiger in the Smoke holds up pretty well. It's not a *great* mystery/thriller, but it was an amusing enough diversion. I also didn't realize it was the 14th book in a series when I started it, but that didn't affect my enjoyment. Allingham isn't Christie, but there is plenty of intrigue - possibly not-dead husbands, new engagements, kidnapping, and plenty of murders and attempted murders. I'd recommend it for a rainy or snowy afternoon. I listened to the aud For being written in 1952, I think The Tiger in the Smoke holds up pretty well. It's not a *great* mystery/thriller, but it was an amusing enough diversion. I also didn't realize it was the 14th book in a series when I started it, but that didn't affect my enjoyment. Allingham isn't Christie, but there is plenty of intrigue - possibly not-dead husbands, new engagements, kidnapping, and plenty of murders and attempted murders. I'd recommend it for a rainy or snowy afternoon. I listened to the audiobook read by David Thorpe and initially wasn't sure I liked him, but he grew on me. He has quite the range of voices, accents, and intonations to keep a wide cast of characters straight, although some are a bit over the top.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sheila Beaumont

    "The Smoke" is fogbound post-WWII London. "The Tiger" is the truly evil Jack Havoc, who has escaped from prison by feigning mental illness to get sent to a psychiatrist, whom he fools and then murders. In his quest to get hold of a priceless hidden treasure, he doesn't care how many people he kills. This thriller, one of my favorites, is notable for its graphic contrast of good, personified in the saintly Canon Avril (protagonist Albert Campion's uncle), and evil, personified in Havoc. There's a "The Smoke" is fogbound post-WWII London. "The Tiger" is the truly evil Jack Havoc, who has escaped from prison by feigning mental illness to get sent to a psychiatrist, whom he fools and then murders. In his quest to get hold of a priceless hidden treasure, he doesn't care how many people he kills. This thriller, one of my favorites, is notable for its graphic contrast of good, personified in the saintly Canon Avril (protagonist Albert Campion's uncle), and evil, personified in Havoc. There's also a most entertaining Dickensian cast of cockney characters. It's well worth reading and rereading.

  17. 5 out of 5

    F.R.

    One of the genius things about crime novels is that because they’re all the same, there are limitless possibilities of what you can do with them. Yes, there’s the basic structure that the reader expects, but beyond that the author can use his or hers ‘hunt the murderer’ yarn to tackle anything they damn well like. Take this interesting, if very flawed, Albert Campian novel. The basic set-up is that there’s a ruthless and expert killer on the loose in London; he is one of the most dangerous men in One of the genius things about crime novels is that because they’re all the same, there are limitless possibilities of what you can do with them. Yes, there’s the basic structure that the reader expects, but beyond that the author can use his or hers ‘hunt the murderer’ yarn to tackle anything they damn well like. Take this interesting, if very flawed, Albert Campian novel. The basic set-up is that there’s a ruthless and expert killer on the loose in London; he is one of the most dangerous men in Britain, and Campian and Scotland Yard have to track him down before any more victims fall. And yet the murder plot is almost the least fascinated element of this book. Written in 1952 and set post-war, Allingham portrays a dark fog forever hanging over the city. Such is the depth and darkness of this fog/smog, that it becomes almost existential in nature. The characters in this book are literally unable to see what is in front of them and where they are going; they’re always fighting against the gloom and lost in this world of blackness. Without a doubt there’s a sense of post-war malaise in this fog, Britain was a country on the winning side of the war, but they don’t feel like victors in this gloomy London – instead they seem to have lost their sunshine and their joy. And perhaps even more than that, a dark and heavy fog is by its nature hugely oppressive, and this oppression is felt right across society itself. If you read the adventures of the aristocratic detective Campian which were written before the war, then there is a sense of a very ordered society. Everybody knows their place. In The Tiger in the Smoke on the other hand, that society is pushed down and crumbling. People who used to have money don’t any more, respectable persons are letting themselves down, things aren’t what they were promised to be and all is too vulnerable to the forces of disorder. Jack Havoc – the tiger of the title – is an incredibly interesting post-war British character: a man who has tasted violence during the war, and is now unable to stop his worst impulses. He represents society’s underbelly, the poor boy who was offered charity by those better and richer than him, but still grew up to be a bad one. That war against Hitler allowed him to pick up all kind of new and violent tricks, which he can employ to get what he wants while the forces of law and order stagger along helplessly behind him. It is quite striking how often he exposes the limitations of the agents of authority, showing them up as foolish and flat-footed. And more so than say Brighton Rock’s Pinkie (a pre-war character of similar ilk), Jack Havoc is a force of incredible nature – remorseless, unrelenting and for the most part unstoppable. Certainly he is one of the most noir characters I have ever read in English fiction. There are American characters like him in the novels of Jim Thompson, or played on the screen by Robert Mitchum, but few in English fiction. He is wild and uncontrollable, a destructive force which threatens society itself. As I said though, this is a distinctly flawed novel. Allingham would clearly rather be writing about Havoc than anyone else, so it does often feel as if the police and even Albert Campian himself have been inserted in from a different novel. It’s also a quite poorly paced story, with vaguely sketched minor characters, and plot development and twists which are casually and almost carelessly unspooled. However it is a really terrifying and evocative portrayal of London, and a must for anyone interested in the state of Britain after the war.

  18. 5 out of 5

    John Mccullough

    According to Wikipedia, this is J. K. Rowling’s favorite crime novel. According to my pretty persnickety wife, this is a really good book. With recommendations like that, who would not want to read the book? Count me in! I have read other books by Allingham – decades ago – and already know her works are real treats, so – of course I have to read the book. In the beginning Meg and Geoffrey want to marry. However, Meg has a problem – her husband was supposedly killed in WW II but there are reports According to Wikipedia, this is J. K. Rowling’s favorite crime novel. According to my pretty persnickety wife, this is a really good book. With recommendations like that, who would not want to read the book? Count me in! I have read other books by Allingham – decades ago – and already know her works are real treats, so – of course I have to read the book. In the beginning Meg and Geoffrey want to marry. However, Meg has a problem – her husband was supposedly killed in WW II but there are reports of him being seen flitting around London in his very standoutish sports coat, so is he still alive? Is she still married? She intends to meet him at a railroad station, but he runs away, is caught by police and Meg’s cousin, Alfred Campion; the “husband” turns out to be not the husband but a petty crook just released from prison dressed like him. Why? Is her husband still alive? Both Meg and Geoff need to know. After being questioned by the police the “husband” is released and very soon after is found in an alley very dead. And Geoff has disappeared. What now? From here the story takes off with more than its fair share of twists and turns. Allingham is a master of character portrayal and scene description. Her portraits of Meg, Geoff, and the “Tiger” in the smog/fog of post-war London and the other characters makes the book much more than a detective story. It is not surprising that the creator of Harry Potter and friends, and Hogwarts School, would like the book. So did I.

  19. 4 out of 5

    P.R.

    This is an extraordinary book. Somehow I'd reached this stage in life without ever reading a Margery Allingham, and I wonder how that happened? Somehow I've missed something excellent. This was published in 1952 and is by no means the first in the Albert Campion series. It's a truly old-fashioned thriller, and to begin with the style and the old-fashioned way of speaking and describing both things and people threw me a little. But beyond that her vivid 'painting with words' is superb and unforge This is an extraordinary book. Somehow I'd reached this stage in life without ever reading a Margery Allingham, and I wonder how that happened? Somehow I've missed something excellent. This was published in 1952 and is by no means the first in the Albert Campion series. It's a truly old-fashioned thriller, and to begin with the style and the old-fashioned way of speaking and describing both things and people threw me a little. But beyond that her vivid 'painting with words' is superb and unforgettable. Reading this book is an experience unlike anything else I've read. As Susan Hill writes in her Foreword, the way in which Allingham conveys a sense of pure evil is terrifying. But, and in no way is this a criticism other than of myself for perhaps overlooking some major pieces of information... I seemed to lose the plot where the relationships were concerned. Several people lived in the same house and some were related to each other, others were not, some were simply friends or domestic staff. People addressed women both young and old as 'Old Lady' or 'Pretty'. I became confused, and perhaps this is because there are other books in the Campion series which define these people's connections and which I should have read first. Setting aside my personal struggles with the era and the relationships, this was a brilliant, unputdownable read and I would definitely read it again. Between four and five stars, simply because I couldn't get my head around some of it!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Bill

    While they aren't necessarily my favourite mystery series, I still enjoy the Albert Campion books. I think Campion is sort of unique in that he doesn't seem to play a major role in the stories. He is always around and involved, helping the police and investigating, but at the same time, the other characters; such as the police, the villains, secondary characters, etc also play important roles. This story starts off with a friend of Campion requesting his assistance. She is a widow, her husband h While they aren't necessarily my favourite mystery series, I still enjoy the Albert Campion books. I think Campion is sort of unique in that he doesn't seem to play a major role in the stories. He is always around and involved, helping the police and investigating, but at the same time, the other characters; such as the police, the villains, secondary characters, etc also play important roles. This story starts off with a friend of Campion requesting his assistance. She is a widow, her husband having been supposedly killed in the war. She has moved on and is engaged to a new man, when she begins getting pictures of her previous husband, which seem to indicate he might still be alive. From this interesting beginning, we find ourselves involved trying to solve the crimes of a serial murderer (who may or may not be related to the previous case), treasure from the war, etc. The story meanders through the plot, moving over to the criminals, back to the police, to Campion's relatives and family, but all the time leading inexorably to the exciting conclusion. Well worth reading (3 stars)

  21. 4 out of 5

    Leah

    Wonderfully atmospheric… Meg has just become engaged to Geoffrey Levett when she begins to receive photographs which appear to show her previous husband, Major Martin Elginbrodde, who was declared dead during World War One. Now the sender of the photographs has given her a time and place to meet, and Meg has asked family friend Albert Campion and Detective Chief Inspector Charles Luke of the police to accompany her. The police catch the man but he refuses to answer their questions and, having no Wonderfully atmospheric… Meg has just become engaged to Geoffrey Levett when she begins to receive photographs which appear to show her previous husband, Major Martin Elginbrodde, who was declared dead during World War One. Now the sender of the photographs has given her a time and place to meet, and Meg has asked family friend Albert Campion and Detective Chief Inspector Charles Luke of the police to accompany her. The police catch the man but he refuses to answer their questions and, having no grounds to hold him, they are forced to release him. Shortly afterwards he is found murdered, and the last person who was seen with him was Geoffrey. Meantime a violent prisoner has escaped from jail, a man named Jack Havoc, whom Luke’s boss, Superintendent Oates, says is one of the only three wholly evil people he has come across in his career. This would appear to be confirmed when three people are found brutally murdered in a lawyer’s office, showing all the signs of Havoc’s modus operandi. This all takes place in the middle of one of London's famous pea-souper fogs that sometimes lasted for days. Because of these fogs London was nicknamed the Smoke, hence the title of the book. While there is a mystery at the beginning as to the photographs of the Major and why Havoc has chosen this time to break out of prison, we find out the answers to these questions fairly early on, and most of the book is really in the form of a thriller. Allingham uses the fog and some great characterisation to create a wonderfully threatening atmosphere and some truly tense suspense which kept me turning the pages long into the night. It soon becomes clear that a group of men are involved, who have turned themselves into a band to busk the streets in order to scrape a living, though again for a long time we don’t know exactly what their involvement is. Some of the men are ex-Army, each of them has some kind of disability or deformity, and they are all led by the rather terrifying Tiddy Doll, himself an albino. I doubt a modern writer could or would use disability in the way Allingham does, to create a really creepy atmosphere reminiscent of freak shows in horror novels, so a reader has to be prepared to make allowances for the time of writing. It is, however, very effective, and serves as a reminder of how many men came back from war damaged physically or mentally. I’ve never been a huge fan of Albert Campion and therefore I was quite happy that he plays a rather low-key role in this one, mostly because the mystery element isn’t huge. This also means that his loyal henchman (aka dogsbody) Magersfontein Lugg has very little presence on the page, and for that I’m devoutly thankful. Allingham’s horribly snobbish portrayal of Lugg as the common working-class servant, complete with comedy name and accent, devoted to his upper-class master, is one of the major reasons Allingham and I don’t get along as well as I’d like. Instead, in the first two thirds or so, we mostly follow Geoff as he gets himself into deep peril, and Inspector Luke as he and his men try to catch up with Havoc. The tension wafts from the page in these scenes, and they are undoubtedly as thrilling as anything I’ve come across in crime fiction, old or new. Because of the air of horror, it reminded me a little of the atmosphere of decadence and Grand Guignol that John Dickson Carr creates in his early Bencolin novels. The book was heading straight for the five-star bracket at this stage, but for me the main climax came too early, and the last section of the book felt needlessly long-drawn out. I haven’t mentioned Meg’s saintly father, Canon Avril, who has surrounded himself with various waifs and strays who form a kind of extended family (mostly of working-class people devoted to upper-class Canon Avril and Meg, but never mind). In the final section Allingham indulges in a, to me, rather tedious, lengthy theological discussion on what Havoc calls “the Science of Luck” and Avril refers to as “the Pursuit of Death”. Frankly I had no idea what it was about and cared even less. In practice it seemed to mean that Havoc felt luck comes to those who look for opportunities. Anyway it takes over in the final few chapters, dictating Havoc’s actions which become progressively unbelievable, as do Canon Avril’s. I’d rather authors stuck to showing good battling evil rather than pontificating about it, especially in religious terms. I’ve swithered over a rating, and decided that sadly I can only give it four. Had it ended differently it would have been a five for sure, for the earlier excellently atmospheric thriller elements. www.fictionfanblog.wordpress.com

  22. 4 out of 5

    Andy Weston

    This is an Albert Campion mystery, published in 1951, but for me the first Allingham I have read. I needed a safe bet from this genre, having lost a bit of interest in it lately, and it certainly delivered in that respect. Though the story opens in a quiet way, with Meg Eglinbrodde and her fiancé Geoffrey Levett, on their way to meeting Campion. Meg’s husband, reported killed in War, has apparently made a miraculous reappearance, in a series of fuzzy photos. Meanwhile, the Tiger of the title, kn This is an Albert Campion mystery, published in 1951, but for me the first Allingham I have read. I needed a safe bet from this genre, having lost a bit of interest in it lately, and it certainly delivered in that respect. Though the story opens in a quiet way, with Meg Eglinbrodde and her fiancé Geoffrey Levett, on their way to meeting Campion. Meg’s husband, reported killed in War, has apparently made a miraculous reappearance, in a series of fuzzy photos. Meanwhile, the Tiger of the title, knife-man Johnny Havoc, is on the run from jail and with a very specific mission in the Smoke, a London shrouded in fog. It’s not long until the two storylines entwine and the action moves up a few gears. Rather than a golden age mystery, this is more of a thriller, though Alingham’s strength is in creating outstanding characters, and an atmosphere in which they can play their parts.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lobstergirl

    It's rare you find the detective to be the least interesting character in a mystery or police procedural, but Campion is barely a character here, virtually undescribed, but a wisp on the page. As this is my first Allingham, it hardly seemed like an adequate introduction. The main female protagonist, 20-something war widow Meg, was too young to be interesting. That left the villain, psychopathic criminal Jack Havoc, and his underworld posse including an albino and a dwarf. They bored me and I cou It's rare you find the detective to be the least interesting character in a mystery or police procedural, but Campion is barely a character here, virtually undescribed, but a wisp on the page. As this is my first Allingham, it hardly seemed like an adequate introduction. The main female protagonist, 20-something war widow Meg, was too young to be interesting. That left the villain, psychopathic criminal Jack Havoc, and his underworld posse including an albino and a dwarf. They bored me and I couldn't wait for their scenes to end. Then there's the fog, nicely described as a "saffron blanket," "greasy drapery," "sooty fingers," "a bucketful of cold soup," "brown folds," "dense as a featherbed," "damp swaddlings," "Rembrandtesque," "an insulating blanket," a "grimy counterpane," making this an atmospheric novel in all senses of the term. The most interesting character is Meg's father, the clergyman Canon Avril, whose history with Jack Havoc leads to a dangerous confrontation in a dark church. As always with early to mid-20th century British crime fiction, you find some type of odd or offensive racial description. Here, there's a "negroid-looking dog" (I'm not sure what that even means) and a Mr. Hertz who is immediately referred to as "the Jew."

  24. 5 out of 5

    Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)

    Having seen a few episodes of the "Campion" TV series in the eighties, I was curious about the books. I somehow got the impression this one was the beginning, which it obviously is not. But anyway, I read it. There were a few too many characters in Campion's household (or Meg's household, or whatever) and I got confused about who was who and what was what. I even took Luke for Maggers, there for a bit, until I remembered M's name. However, the language is good and the story flowed well until abo Having seen a few episodes of the "Campion" TV series in the eighties, I was curious about the books. I somehow got the impression this one was the beginning, which it obviously is not. But anyway, I read it. There were a few too many characters in Campion's household (or Meg's household, or whatever) and I got confused about who was who and what was what. I even took Luke for Maggers, there for a bit, until I remembered M's name. However, the language is good and the story flowed well until about halfway through. Unfortunately things bogged down a bit when they got to the baddies' hideaway; I felt the setup of who was in authority etc took far too long. The ending was all right, but a bit predictable, with important events taking place "offstage." An OK read, though I hope some of the other novels are a bit more engaging. I liked Vicar Avril, but Campion was hardly present at all and didn't do much sleuthing.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Daniela

    2 1/2 stars When Meg Elginbrodde receives photos of her late husband Martin, presumed dead in WW2, she is shocked - not in the least because she is to marry Geoffrey Levett in a few days. But what starts out relatively harmless turns into a dangerous game of life and death very soon - and corpses begin to pile up. I seem to be in the absolute minority here, but this didn't work for me. I am a fan of psychological mysteries/thrillers and this was more about organized crime, so I guess my low rating 2 1/2 stars When Meg Elginbrodde receives photos of her late husband Martin, presumed dead in WW2, she is shocked - not in the least because she is to marry Geoffrey Levett in a few days. But what starts out relatively harmless turns into a dangerous game of life and death very soon - and corpses begin to pile up. I seem to be in the absolute minority here, but this didn't work for me. I am a fan of psychological mysteries/thrillers and this was more about organized crime, so I guess my low rating is mostly due to personal preference. If a hunt after a ruthless murderer and his gang of thieves through foggy London sounds like something you might like, give this a try. For me, it wasn't meant to be.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Frances

    This is my second time reading this book-probably one of the best of Allingham's mysteries, although certainly not a typical Golden Age Whodunnit. This is a very atmospheric, character-driven novel about crime and manipulation, set in London in the post-second WW era, and her detective, Albert Campion, has certainly matured and improved over time. This is my second time reading this book-probably one of the best of Allingham's mysteries, although certainly not a typical Golden Age Whodunnit. This is a very atmospheric, character-driven novel about crime and manipulation, set in London in the post-second WW era, and her detective, Albert Campion, has certainly matured and improved over time.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Carmen

    Just then he had a presentiment, a warning from some experience-born sixth sense, that he was about to encounter something rare and dangerous. The whiff of tiger crept to him through the fog.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Greg

    Dame Christie and Peers Christie was not at her best when she stepped outside of the mystery/deception/who-did-it genre and into a thriller genre. Does Allingham do thrillers better?* Cast - 2 stars: Albert Campion's humorous oddities aren't here, but Campion himself is almost missing. A group of thugs seem lifted from an American hard-boiled novel. Atmosphere - 2 stars: Fog. More fog. A house on a cliff might hold a treasure. Too much fog...so much I guess I became fog-brained. Plot -2: The story Dame Christie and Peers Christie was not at her best when she stepped outside of the mystery/deception/who-did-it genre and into a thriller genre. Does Allingham do thrillers better?* Cast - 2 stars: Albert Campion's humorous oddities aren't here, but Campion himself is almost missing. A group of thugs seem lifted from an American hard-boiled novel. Atmosphere - 2 stars: Fog. More fog. A house on a cliff might hold a treasure. Too much fog...so much I guess I became fog-brained. Plot -2: The story gets off to a very good start. Isn't a man in photographs dead? Is there blackmail? Who is who? Then the story switches to a gangster kidnapping and goes downhill. I was a tad bored. Investigation - 1: Where is the kidnapped man? With the gang? Resolution - 2: The story does indeed end, but I lost interest. Summary - 1:8: *No. I preferred, for example, this author's "Mystery Mile" with a superior cast. Or her "Flowers For the Judge" with its odder atmosphere. "Tiger" reminded me of Christie's Tommy and Tuppence novels, the weakest in her body of work, imo.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Adam Carson

    Sometimes I find the pacing of these later Allingham books a bit difficult to get into. So much goes into the excellently drawn characters, that the plot can almost feel secondary. Having said that, once I was into it I was gripped. It’s a thriller, rather than a whodunnit, and there’s much less focus on Campion’s character than with her other books, but it doesn’t suffer for that. Well worth the read.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tim Pendry

    Margery Allingham was one of a circle of mid-twentieth century mystery writers, jewels in the crown of British popular fiction at that time. This classic work is a little different from other tales of the period in a number of ways. It uses the crime story for entirely other ends. It is dated (published in 1952) but that is part of its charm. We are given a finely drawn if rather allegorical picture of a London still recovering from the trauma of the Second World War in a frank, almost social re Margery Allingham was one of a circle of mid-twentieth century mystery writers, jewels in the crown of British popular fiction at that time. This classic work is a little different from other tales of the period in a number of ways. It uses the crime story for entirely other ends. It is dated (published in 1952) but that is part of its charm. We are given a finely drawn if rather allegorical picture of a London still recovering from the trauma of the Second World War in a frank, almost social realist way (even if it is the social realism of middle class perception). Although the story centres on a middle class household with what passes for retainers despite its genteel poverty, it has moved far away from the country house or village murder. This is a thriller more than it is a mystery. The conclusion is honestly not going to surprise any reader. For a start, Allingham has her aristocratic detective in Albert Campion but he detects very little and plays a subsidiary role in the story. The heroes are the London police. The critical detection, which is not of a criminal but of his plans, is done by Divisional Detective Chief Inspector. The mystery too is not the resolution of a murder (we know precisely who is doing the killing throughout) but the nature of a treasure trove. That final discovery makes the story a sentimental morality tale as much as it does a thriller or a mystery. There is so much to say about this novel that we are going to have to divide it into the atmospheric, the sociological (without giving the plot away), the historical and the philosophical. The central hinge for all four aspects of the story is a sociopath, his origins and nature. The atmospheric is covered by the role of the London fog in the early chapters. The story is played out in empty houses, cellars and dark churches until the sunlight of France appears but the fog defines the circumstances of crime and acts as foil to the cosy warm world of 'good' people. The sociological is represented by the classism that runs through the book. It gives us a picture of a rather frightened and pauperised middle class holding to family and religion as bulwark against disorder and trusting in the police as their allies and friends. Contrasted with them (and their dependant retainers) is an underclass that sits below a boisterous and mob-like working class and which produces criminals, thieves and murderers out of the flotsam and jetsam of deracinated and poverty-stricken ex-soldiers. What is remarkable is that there is no sense of gratitude for the men who were uprooted from English villages and thrown into brutal special missions and the Normandy beaches. Their Officers are not there to control them now and they are a threat to property and life. The consequences of the war are divided into a long-suffering property-owning (just) middle class, officers making their way in the world to try to recreate the old order (or honourably dead) and a lumpenproletariat of criminals and spongers. The welfare state would have been barely half a decade old when this was written and yet not only is it and its need not recognised but the social order is really not much different from that of the 1930s, only with the middle classes short of a bob, vulnerable and new danger in the streets. The overall image provided for Allingham's middle class readership is one of "I understand your anxieties and fears but stay firm. Your faith and the police will protect you from these savages and order can be restored". A deeply conservative but also frightened vision. It is harder to speak of the other side of the equation - the criminal classes where cunning replaces intelligence and superstition replaces religion and where leadership is not natural (a gang leader is an albino) but that of the wolf pack - because of spoilers. Her sociopathic villain Jack Havoc (an assumed name) might be more familiar to us now from popular TV and film but we can see why the portrayal packed a punch in 1952. This character is highly intelligent in his own way, portrayed as a noble beast, but has no redeeming qualities. Just as readers then would have been frightened by the idea of a tiger loose in the streets of London so this killer frightens them and all of London. The sociopath is not from the hidden underworld of the Krays but that tiger let loose in the streets in human form. Allingham does not shy away from a back story of deprivation but she does not show sympathy. There is good and evil and Havoc is just evil. His evil is connected to the family in some way (not by blood though) and being good also means that the good must not become evil in its presence. This is all set in a particular historical context. The war was frightening and disruptive to the middle classes and it was a struggle (expressed in how one key character gets back into business) to rebuild fortunes. The villain wants easy riches and he thinks he is going to get it through acquiring a treasure (as do a number of other criminals in the story) but the claim of hard work on the part of the bourgeoisie is vitiated a little by the male hero getting his start up money from gambling and speculation. Allingham lays a little trap for us here because the evil chap has a philosophy of luck but the solid male hero (a true chap) actually depended on luck to establish himself after the war and luck ensures that the Chief Inspector can catch the villain. Perhaps luck is legitimate in the hands of the middle classes as an occasional leg up but illegitimate as a total philosophy of life for the poor which brings us nicely on to the religio-philosophical side of the book which, though unsophisticated, should not be dismissed. The book reminds us that the Anglican Church, though formally powerless and with representatives who were gently mocked for their ways, was incredibly important to the Southern English middle classes as surety of their own goodness and decency. We see this in many mysteries and novels of the mid-twentieth century. Here, the household that represents goodness and decency is centred on the rectory of an urban church that is indistinguishable in culture from that of a country village. The fog cuts it off from its surroundings. It is so cosy as a collection of people who could have come straight out of the Archers that one might almost fantasise that some alien colony had been planted in the middle of a working class and possibly atheistic London. All the terror and neurotic anxiety of the middle class of the early 1950s is in this book. It throws itself into the post-war gloom and asserts perhaps that the old world is not dead but only sleeping and that it will rise again because it is inherently good and decent ... and warm and cosy. The philosophical resolution is made explicit in a scene between Havoc and the gentle but not ineffective vicar Avril. The latter courts martyrdom to make his point about goodness and evil. I cannot say anything more specific because of spoilers. I can say that Avril espouses a form meek and mild Anglicanism that is presented as secure in its faith while his opponent is presented as an example of a-moral existentialist ideas being imported from France. The idea here is that Christian values must triumph in the end. Colin Wilson's book 'The Outsider' was at least four years away so that cannot have been an influence. Allingham and other High Tory Anglicans must already have been aware of the philosophy, been disturbed by it and chosen already to have associated it with sociopathy. So, there we have it - an anxious classist novel with perhaps a degree of nastiness about the working class that probably passes most modern middle class readers by. It is an interwar thriller hybridised somewhat weakly with an aristocratic detective novel to deal with current fears. And yet it remains interesting and worth reading because, for all its flaws and unintended expression of class neurosis, it is finely written (her theme clearly inspired her) and it gives a rare and honest insight into just how bad that neurosis had become by the early 1950s.

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