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Mr Campion’s War – Review

November 7, 2018

The date is May 20th, 1970. An ageing Albert Campion arrives at the Dorchester to celebrate his birthday. The guests include the great and the good of British high society – members of the aristocracy, the Master of St Ignatius College, a Commander in the Metropolitan Police – and many other distinguished figures who all dutifully arrive to pay tribute to Blighty’s best-loved detective, adventurer and, as we are soon to discover, clandestine war hero. For Campion is about to regale his guests with the extraordinary tale of his heretofore unrevealed wartime exploits. In flashback, we see Campion’s recruitment into the Intelligence Services, going undercover as a Canadian diplomat in Vichy France and finally exposing an ingenious and dastardly money laundering scheme which stands to make some disreputable characters very rich.

Ripley skilfully alternates between the war and peacetime settings and the characters who inhabit them. The fuddy duddy ensemble at the Dorchester fondly reminisce of a war-time era: one that didn’t have to endure anything quite so uncouth as the Swinging Sixties, Top of the Pops, and Britain’s imminent entry into the Common Market (I wonder if it will last). Campion, needless to say, had a good war. In fact, it’s all a bit of a lark as he finds himself pitted against a Nazi cabal, Vichy French officials (Nazi’s with superior cuisine), Riviera gangsters straight out J’Accuse, and one truly loathsome British traitor. That said, war is still a dirty business and Campion’s nearest and dearest have often remarked of how he was never quite the same after the Big Show. The reader finds out why as Campion is caught up in a maelstrom of epic events including Operation Torch and Case Anton.

Mike Ripley cut his teeth as a writer with the splendid comic capers in the Angel series. He’s also renowned for his witty column ‘Getting Away with Murder’ which mixes genre news, literary history and mischievous gossip to great effect. In recent years, he’s been on something of a roll with his terrific history of post-war British thrillers Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang and five novels in the Campion series. Ripley began his continuation novels of Margery Allingham’s most famous character after helping to complete Pip Youngman Carter’s (Allingham’s husband) unfinished manuscript Mr Campion’s Farewell with the blessing of the Margery Allingham Society. Mr Campion’s War is, I believe, his best novel yet in the series. It has that perfect cocktail hour mix of mystery, derring-do, cutting wit and stiff-upper lip English reserve that honours Allingham’s creation while leaving Ripley’s own indelible imprint on the series.

A perfect stocking-filler.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. mikeripley permalink
    November 7, 2018 9:51 am

    Steve,

    Thank you for your kind words. Could I prevail upon you to bung something on Amazon? It would help given the coming (1st December) publication in the US and on Kindle.

    Cheers,

    Mike.

    • November 7, 2018 9:55 am

      No problem at all Mike. I really enjoyed the book and think it’s the best of the continuation novels so far. I’ve crossposted the review on Amazon.

      I’m WS (Walter Scott) on Amazon. No ego at all there!

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