Margery Louise Allingham was a British detective story writer of unusual subtlety, wit, and imaginative power who created the bespectacled, keen-witted Albert Campion, one of the most interesting fictional detectives from that period. Campion’s career began with a group of ingenious popular thrillers: The Crime at Black Dudley (1929; U.S. title: The Black Dudley Murder), Mystery Mile (1930), Police at the Funeral (1931), and Sweet Danger (1933). A series of more tightly constructed intellectual problem stories, beginning with Death of a Ghost (1934) and including Flowers for the Judge (1936), The Fashion in Shrouds (1938) and Traitor’s Purse (1941), gained Allingham critical esteem. With Coroner’s Pidgin (1950; U.S. title, Pearls Before Swine), More Work for the Undertaker (1948), Tiger in the Smoke (1952)—a novel that revealed her psychological insight and her power to create an atmosphere of pervasive, mindless evil—and The China Governess (1963), she made a valuable contribution to the development of the detective story as a serious literary genre.

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