I'm so glad that The Black Dudley Murder was not my first introduction to Margery Allingham or Albert Campion. (The Case of the Late Pig was a fantastic introduction.)
George Abbershaw, our narrator, is a house-guest at a weekend party in a country house. (The "country house" is quite gothic in nature.) He accepted the invitation because he's madly in love with a young woman, Margaret Oliphant, and he'd heard that she was to be in attendance. A whole weekend with her, he might even work up the nerve to propose! Other than Wyatt Petrie, he knows no other guests at all. His narration reveals his first impressions, and some of these first impressions at least are quite correct.
Typically when one goes to a party, one expects to be able to leave when one wants. Even if the host dies of a "heart attack." But that is not the case in The Black Dudley Murder. The guests find themselves held hostage. They have no contact with the world, no way to alert anyone--neighbors, police, etc. of the dangerous situation. (Even if they could manage to get to the garage and their cars without being shot or caught and bound, the cars have all been drained of gasoline.)
Albert Campion is a minor character in this one. He is not the hero of the day--or the hour--and he doesn't exactly steal the scenes he's in. I had a hard time enjoying any of the characters in this one. Or perhaps it's better to say I had a hard time getting to know any of the characters. Perhaps reading Agatha Christie, Georgette Heyer, and Dorothy Sayers has spoiled me.
English detectives are a race apart. They are evident at the first glance. (87)© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews