Sweet Danger by Margery Allingham

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Sweet Danger by Margery Allingham

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Category: Crime (Historical)
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Louise Jones
Reviewed by Louise Jones
Summary: Campion and his aides are on a mission from the British Government to find the heir of the principality of Averna. Can they solve the riddle of the oak and unlock the mystery?
Buy? maybe Borrow? maybe
Pages: 256 Date: November 2004
Publisher: Vintage
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9780099474685

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Sweet Danger is the fifth book in Margery Allingham's Campion series, which has our eponymous gentleman-adventurer on a quest to find the rightful heir of a suddenly-valuable principality on the Adriatic Sea known as Averna. The British Government want proof of ownership and this, of course, involves overcoming several obstacles, including a curious riddle, collecting various items and keeping one step ahead of the enemy. The quest soon becomes a race against time, when the villains, led by Machiavellian schemer Brett Savanake, start to close in on our heroes.

Campion and his assistants; the wonderfully-named Guffy Randall and Magersfontein Lugg, travel to the village of Pontisbright in rural Suffolk, home to the former heirs of Averna. There they meet an impoverished young family, the Fittons, who live with their aunt in a dilapidated old mill. Campion and his friends piece together the clues in order to find the missing titles and deeds that will provide the needed evidence to show that young Hal Fitton is the rightful heir to Averna.

Originally published in 1933, the narrative is starting to show its age regarding language and humour, although in other aspects, it seems remarkably forward-thinking for its time. For example, the heroine, Amanda Fitton, is neither a damsel in distress nor femme fatale, but rather a scruffy teenager who loves nothing better than messing around with radios and electricity. She is absolutely fearless too, managing to save Campion's life due to her selflessness and bravery. Amanda was my favourite character in the book and she was so popular with readers that she returned at a later point in the Campion series and became one of its best-loved characters.

Most of the characters were well-written, with larger-than life personalities. Brett Savanake, the main villain, is a deliciously monstrous creation, who just oozes menace. The names that Allingham gives her characters could have come directly from a Wodehouse novel: Scatty Williams, Peaky Doyle and Harriet Huntingforest to name but a few.

I did find the book inconsistent however, as the tone switches from tongue-in-cheek humour to deadly serious. I have to admit, I preferred the latter, with the final stand-off at the mill pond one of the most exciting and gripping pieces of writing that I've read in a long time. Other scenes, such as the odd showdown with the insane Dr Galley, did little to advance the plot and came across as silly and over-the-top. I was also disappointed in the way that the riddle was resolved; I'm sure that many readers would have liked the opportunity to try and figure out the solution for themselves, but alas, it was too complicated and convoluted for this to have been possible. Sweet Danger is a bit of a mixed bag, but in general, the positives outweigh the negatives.

Publishers Vintage have the whole Campion series available for a new generation of readers to enjoy. Bookbag particularly enjoyed Mystery Mile, another Campion mystery set in Suffolk.

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Buy Sweet Danger by Margery Allingham at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Sweet Danger by Margery Allingham at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Sweet Danger by Margery Allingham at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Sweet Danger by Margery Allingham at Amazon.com.


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