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Albert Campion #4

Police at the Funeral

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Caroline Faraday runs her house like a Victorian fiefdom, unconcerned with the fact that it's 1931. Furniture and meals are heavy and elaborate, motorcars and morning tea are forbidden on account of vulgarity. The Faraday children, now well into middle age, chafe at the restrictions, but with no money of their own, they respond primarily by quarreling amongst themselves. Their endless squabbling is tedious but nothing more until one of them turns up dead, followed shortly by his petulant, whining sister. Though neither will be much missed, decency demands that Caroline Faraday hire the nearly respectable Albert Campion to investigate their untimely ends.

294 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1931

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About the author

Margery Allingham

196 books480 followers
Aka Maxwell March.

Margery Louise Allingham was born in Ealing, London in 1904 to a family of writers. Her father, Herbert John Allingham, was editor of The Christian Globe and The New London Journal, while her mother wrote stories for women's magazines as Emmie Allingham. Margery's aunt, Maud Hughes, also ran a magazine. Margery earned her first fee at the age of eight, for a story printed in her aunt's magazine.

Soon after Margery's birth, the family left London for Essex. She returned to London in 1920 to attend the Regent Street Polytechnic (now the University of Westminster), and met her future husband, Philip Youngman Carter. They married in 1928. He was her collaborator and designed the cover jackets for many of her books.

Margery's breakthrough came 1929 with the publication of her second novel, The Crime at Black Dudley . The novel introduced Albert Campion, although only as a minor character. After pressure from her American publishers, Margery brought Campion back for Mystery Mile and continued to use Campion as a character throughout her career.

After a battle with breast cancer, Margery died in 1966. Her husband finished her last novel, A Cargo of Eagles at her request, and published it in 1968.

Also wrote as: Maxwell March

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 288 reviews
Profile Image for Mir.
4,867 reviews5,034 followers
September 24, 2022
This is the first book in the series to not have organized crime as a plot element. Like all the other Campion books it is set an old family home with an upper-crust cast (Allingham comes near to breaking the fourth wall when she makes her police officer comment on the improbability of this given how few murders are actually committed in stately homes by rich families). In this case the dramatic personae are unusual primarily for their senescence: a tyrannical octogenarian widow keeps her elderly children and nephew living with her, under her thumb. They have no money of their own, no independent activities, not even any say as to their daily routines, food, clothing, etc. Even morning tea is forbidden simply because the dowager disapproves. They live according to the manner in which she conducted her home when she was a young wife in the 19th century. Julia, Kitty, Andrew, and William potter uselessly about the house, wiling away the empty hours by getting at each other. No wonder someone eventually snaps under these conditions! But who?

The one young person living at Socrates Close is Joyce, a niece by marriage who serves as companion, secretary, and general dogsbody, keeping the bills paid on time and trying to soothe her hysterical aunts. This was published in the 1930s and we are told that Joyce had a job which she quit to go live in this old house in Cambridge with these awful people she owed nothing to, which I didn't understand since she seemed a pleasant and capable woman, but I guess that's plot convenience for you. In any case, Joyce happens to be engaged to Marcus, a college friend of Campion's, and when one of her uncles goes missing he directs her to the detective, even though he thinks she is just being a sillyhead, you know how women are. I also didn't understand why Joyce was marrying Marcus. I hope it was for money, or he was good in bed or something, because his personality wasn't very enticing.

Aside from some minor antics early on, Campion cuts a more serious figure here than in earlier novels. I missed his crazy dialog but was not surprised, as he had been getting gradually more serious with each installment. At this point he is fairly sympathetic if a tad bland. I had previously read some books from later in the series, and am interested in seeing how he gets from this point to the rather bitter and unpleasant individual of a few years later.
Profile Image for Susan.
2,695 reviews595 followers
July 13, 2018
This is the fourth Albert Campion novel, published in 1931. I have had mixed reactions to the series so far, but I have certainly enjoyed this one the most so far.

Campion is contacted by Joyce Blount, who is engaged to a friend of his. Joyce lives in Socrates Close, Cambridge, surrounded by the old, eccentric, Faraday family; headed by matriarch, Caroline Faraday, widow of a famous academic. However, Uncle Andrew has gone missing and all is not well within the household. Joyce is almost hysterical when, approaching Campion, she recognises a man who has been following Inspector Stanislaus Oates, and the four converge at the same time. However, she refuses to admit she knows who the man was and this air of secrecy surrounds most of the inhabitants of Socrates Close, making it difficult for Campion to uncover the truth of events.

This is an involved and fun mystery, with family secrets, mysterious deaths and strange events. Ultimately, like many of the Campion novels, the ending is convoluted and ingenious. I liked the inhabitants of Socrates Close; including the imperious Great-Aunt Caroline, blustering Uncle William, the black sheep, Cousin George and others. I will certainly be trying the next in the series.

Profile Image for Bruce Beckham.
Author 35 books414 followers
August 27, 2019
I’m just finding my feet with these inter-war Margery Allingham mysteries – this is number four (1931) in the ‘Albert Campion’ series, of 18 novels in all.

Police at the Funeral is largely set in a substantial Victorian villa in the university town of Cambridge, where elderly members of a dysfunctional family appear systematically to be murdering one another.

For the most part it is a tedious narrative – indeed, at one point the hero himself makes the observation that he is losing the will to live (I paraphrase). It is as though the author were apologising for the hole she had dug.

I listened to the audiobook version, and somehow stuck with it; I suppose you just have to know whodunit – but when the apparently simple plot did eventually unravel it revealed itself to be one of the more convoluted and improbable explanations I have yet encountered.

If there is a redeeming feature it is the endearing amateur detective and adventurer Albert Campion, who is a real gem – and his singlehanded efforts will have me coming back for more.

However, should you be thinking of doing the same, but have a mountainous to-read list, this is one you could safely skip.
Profile Image for Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all).
2,019 reviews186 followers
November 24, 2016
Much better than any of the Campion novels I've read to date. Our Albert actually does some hands-on detecting at the request of a friend of his grandmother's who knows his real name and identity, but divulges nothing. The autocratic old lady lives in Socrates House, Cambridge (not a college, just a mansion) ruling her family with an iron hand encased in a lace mitt. Murder, drink, tramps and remittence men combine to induce hysteria in the maiden aunts at every turn.

Allingham apparently had a penchant for Rosenberg's engravings; Campion had them in his flat in Vol 3, and now the American visiting professor (who talks like a Brit) has them in her study. The author couldn't resist a university-town murder, including an untranslated Greek quotation in the first few pages--cause, yeah--it's not being written for plebs like me. That's also probably why no one mentions that "conium poisoning"is "hemlock" until nearly the end of the book. But then, this was first published in 1931, though the edition is modern; so modern in fact that the editors appear unaware that "discomfited" and "discomfort" are two different words. "Discomfort" is a noun, not a verb, but if they don't know that I won't be the one to tell them.

Profile Image for Tras.
195 reviews51 followers
September 12, 2020
Loved this one. It's a superb mystery and is the best of the 4 Campion books I've read so far. In my humble opinion, each novel has been progressively better than the last and I am very much in favour of that. This is the first plot that doesn't involve some type of criminal gang. Rather, the mystery centres on an imposing house where an elderly matriarch rules her ageing (and essentially hopeless) offspring with an iron fist. The house is occupied by some less than appealing relatives, and Campion gets involved when said relatives begin to die in unpleasant circumstances. The tension is slowly ratcheted as the story advances, and the diminishing cast of suspects will keep you guessing til the very end. Brilliant stuff.
Profile Image for F.R..
Author 31 books199 followers
December 20, 2010
I’ve never read a Margey Allingham before, but having finally taken the plunge I have to say that I’m hugely impressed. She’s of course one of the Grande Dames of English detective fiction, but she is a much better writer than either Dorothy L. Sayers or Agatha Christie (though it wouldn’t be hard to be a more skilled prose stylist than Dame Agatha). Interestingly she seems to realise there’s something faintly absurd about the notion of an aristocratic detective (according to my good friend Wikipedia, Albert Campion was created as a spoof of Lord Peter Wimsey), and there is almost a protean quality to her version – a bland man who hides behind his glasses and isn’t even comfortable using his real name. Not that he isn’t a strong presence at the centre of the book, the reader is never allowed to forget that behind his vague expression is the sharpest mind in the room.

A series of murders are committed amongst an old aristocratic family, which is ruled by an intimidating matriarch of the old school. Campion is called into help the investigation (an aristocrat investigating aristocratic murder always seems more likely to be successful, the family opens up in the way they never would with a common policeman). There are red herrings, other attacks in the night, huge footprints left in the garden and a conclusion which is satisfyingly impossible to guess – if more than somewhat absurd.

What really pleased me though was her style, breezy and smart with a good line in humour. This is a book to enjoy not only for the mechanics of the mystery but for the prose as well. As such I look forward to the other Campion novels in 2011.
Profile Image for John.
1,200 reviews95 followers
October 3, 2022
A surprising ending. Campion is an interesting character and the mystery was who killed Uncle Andrew. Lots of suspects including his brother William. The autocrat elderly Matriarch Caroline who rules the house on Victorian times. No one liked Andrew who was a nasty piece of work.

Written in 1931 there was a racist tone at the end. However, the twist was excellent. Very psychological with Campion uncovering the culprit who goes unpunished.
Profile Image for Bev.
2,957 reviews265 followers
July 4, 2020
Well, I fell in love with Albert Campion all over again. I hadn't read any Margery Allingham books for a good long while and pulled out Police at the Funeral as my final entry in the Out With a Bang Read-a-Thon. I got so wrapped up in Campion's world that I stayed up till midnight just so I could finish it ('cuz I had to know what happened) and claim the whole book for the challenge.

In this novel, Campion is called upon by the fiancée of an old friend to investigate the mysterious disappearance of one of her uncles. Uncle Andrew started walking home from church one Sunday and never arrived. It's not that Joyce Blount is all that fond of her uncle--he's a bitter, insulting man who has written a book exposing the family skeletons, but she is very afraid of the atmosphere in the family home and what might happen next. As she should be. Uncle Andrew is finally found--dead. And several family members soon follow him to an early grave. What evil influence has hold at Socrates Close, the Cambridge landmark home of the Farradays? And can Albert Campion and his friend Inspector Stanislaus Oates make their way through complex family dynamic to solve the mystery before the entire family is removed from the scene?

Margery Allingham is at her best in this Campion outing. The repartee is witty. The descriptions are eerie and suspense-laden. The mystery is complex enough and strewn with red-herrings that will keep the reader guessing till the very end. A highly enjoyable mystery from one of the Golden Age's best
Profile Image for Connie Cox.
286 reviews181 followers
January 7, 2015
My first foray into Margery Allingham's world of Mr. Campion and it was a rather delightful trip. I listened to the audio of this and the narrator was quite enthusiastic and I felt as if I was listening to a full ensemble of actors as he changed his voice for each character.

I would call this a good old fashioned mystery....murders, a mansion, minimal clues and suspects galore among these quirky, oddball characters. Mr. Campion, not a police detective but a rather over the top adventurist is right in the middle of the chaos...and in the end solves the crime. A very unlikely hero.

Nothing earth shattering, no gore or graphic scenes, just good mystery writing. The characters were well developed and the tension builds. A lot of rather dry British humor as well. An enjoyable who done it and a series I would return to.
Profile Image for Jan C.
1,020 reviews114 followers
January 18, 2019
Fourth in the series. From 1931. Enjoyable Golden Age mystery.

Albert Campion leaves Lugg behind in this one. He does a favor for a friend. There's been a death in his girlfriend's family and the victim's brother is the prime suspect and he doesn't know where he was. The brothers were walking home from church and another fight/dispute and split up. What happened? William doesn't know and Andrew is missing.

One of the quirks of fate that Allingham frequently employs determines that Little Albert (as he sometimes refers to himself) is known by the matriarch of the household. His great-aunt was a friend of hers. But she keeps his secret.

The bodies pile up and murders continue diabolically.

I did not get this one. Good book though.
Profile Image for Deb Jones.
733 reviews85 followers
August 24, 2021
Unable to find the third book in this series, I was happy to find Police at the Funeral, the fourth of the Albert Campion mystery series.

After having found the Campion character to be offbeat and even a little campy in the first book of the series, I now find him less quirky. Either his character has grown on me or he is less offbeat as the series moves forward.

Once again, a fascinating mystery plot that defies detection right up to the final chapters.

In this story, we learn that Albert Campion is an alias the young man has chosen to live by, at least at this point in his life. His real first name is Rudolph and is at least the second son of a well-to-do family.
Profile Image for Abbey.
641 reviews63 followers
May 19, 2017
1931, #4 Albert Campion, Adventurer, London and Cambridge; many secrets come to light when a cantankerous member of a socially prominent - but peculiar - Cambridge family goes missing. Both the book and the tv film are highly recommended for those who enjoy Golden Age puzzle plots. four-and-one-half stars.

The autocratic - and personally remarkable - Mrs. Caroline Farraday rules over her odd family with an iron grip - no soft edges for *this* late-Victorian matriarch, thank you very much! Although very subtle in her actual wording and behavior, she holds the purse strings and rules her dependents' lives completely, and arbitrarily. And almost all the members of her large family are dependents, having failed at their businesses and, seemingly, their lives as well, and come home to live with Mother/Aunt/Grandmother. Now in her eighties, she may move physically slower now, but her hold on her family is still as strong as it was when she was A Force to Be Reckoned With in society in the 1880s and 1890s.

Pretty much trapped in their gloomy old house of Socrates Close in academic Cambridge, the family bicker among themselves year after year, and slowly disintegrates from within. When the occasionally provocative (in a juvenile way) sixty-year-old Andrew, a bitter but still intelligent and erudite man, goes missing, the family lawyer calls in Campion to try and track him down without publicity or fuss. Things go downhill rapidly, from there, however, and when the first murder victim is found the police must be called in.

Campion moves into the house and finds that the atmosphere is not only cloying, it's lethal, as he strives to come to an understanding of this psychologically damaged - and dangerous! - family, and to solve the murder(s) without those he's come to like being hurt, if possible. Darkly psychological, very slow-paced and introspective, this is still an entertaining read, and likely was very frightening when first published in 1931.

Allingham's writing is, I have found, rather darker than Christie's, more psychologically dependent, and - beneath the foppish mask of the brainless-appearing Campion - very sharply observes society and the many sorts of people therein of the period. She's a very acute observer and an intelligent writer. I always enjoy her work, and this is no exception. Almost her very best writing, it's rather slow-moving for modern tastes, but still fascinating - and dark, dark, dark! Wonderful stuff.

The tv film version of this is superb - it has Peter Davison as Campion and is filled with many familiar faces from British dramas of the 1980s and 1990s ("Andrew" is a particularly familiar face...). Plus the atmosphere of that house and the family dynamics are beautifully rendered. While they do rewrite a bit of the plot here-and-there (i.e., the family members are far more likeable), the revisions are not obtrusive, and the film is, in itself, a lot of fun to watch and puzzle through.
Profile Image for Katrina.
845 reviews31 followers
September 20, 2022
I think I'll stop here for now with Allingham. Maybe I'll come back to this series after I make my way through more of my other mysteries; it's not like I don't have enough books pending already.

But I am a little sad that I just can't get hooked on this one.

Campion himself is interesting, and I really liked the tidbits we got this time about his family, particularly the grandmother who supports him in his not-so-genteel lifestyle. I would like to get to a point where we actually meet the family and find out what made him split off from them, whether he's been fully disinherited, etc. I'd also like to see Campion meet someone and potentially get married - I could look that up, but I didn't want to spoil myself if there was a love interest I could get naturally attached to in a later book.

This book was a little bit more like my favorite, Mystery Mile (which did have that tragic love interest), in that it focused on the characters and didn't veer off into weird secret society or pseudo-supernatural territory. Even so, only a few members of the cast got fleshed out in any particularly interesting ways.

I missed Lugg (and what is the point of Campion having a pet jackdaw if it never shows up again?), but I did really enjoy the interactions between Campion and Inspector Oates - particularly the bit where Oates was sulking because Campion withheld evidence from him, and Campion was sulking because his friend wouldn't talk to him.

I also liked Uncle William, to my surprise; he's a silly, useless old man, but well-meaning in his own way, and someone it's easy to pity. His attachment to Campion was cute, and Campion slipping up and calling him "Uncle William" felt like a subtle nod to those missing family connections of his - he's probably longing to be a part of a family, even if he doesn't particularly want his own anymore. (And why? That's the stuff I want to know.)

Unfortunately, the only other character who got a full personality was the tyrannical great-aunt, who also grew fond of Campion - having been friends with his grandmother for many years, and continuing to correspond with her regularly. She's presented as the only person in the house who has any sense at all, which ultimately makes it reasonable for her to rule over their lives and make every decision for them. Even though it's stated many times that this repression and iron-fisted control is what makes the house unbearable, and full of people who unsurprisingly all become potential murderers.

It's inconsistent writing and characterization.

Is she evil? Campion suspects her, initially, of orchestrating the murders, using her strong-limbed servant as her enforcer. Or is she the victim, a fragile old woman to be pitied? When Terrible Cousin George shows up, an unmannered blackmailing drunkard who takes over the house, everyone longs for Great-Aunt Faraday's strict rules - which they'd all previously hated and chafed under.

People can be complex - many things at once, and never wholly good or bad - but it really feels like Allingham just can't make up her mind.

The worst bit comes right at the end, when we finally discover Cousin George's secret - the blackmail he holds over his great-aunt and the whole family, the secret that's "worse than murder."

He's part Black.

At some point in the past, his father had been ostracized from the family and been sent off to the colonies, and came back with a wife Everyone Suspected (of being part Black), and then this "stain" on the family was proven when they had a child. That child, who had dark skin, ended up dying, but horror of horrors the couple still dared to have another child - George. (None of this is my language; this is exactly how it's portrayed in the final chapters.)

No wonder George grew up to be bitter and distant from the family that paid him off every once in a while to go away and not talk about his mother!!

Mrs. Faraday is definitely old enough to be of a generation where she'd find all of this truly terrible and embarrassing, but it's not portrayed as a deeply negative, intolerant part of her character. There's some minor implication that Joyce, the young relation caring for her, didn't feel exactly the same way about Cousin George's background, but we don't find out any more about that. (Joyce also fades into the background a lot throughout the novel, and I never understood why she was engaged to the very boring and rather misogynistic Marcus.) Meanwhile, Campion hears this bombshell revelation and feels "honored" to be taken into Mrs. Faraday's confidence...and finds himself admiring her greatly.

For being such an intolerant racist that she got half her family murdered? Okay.

The mystery itself also majorly falls apart, which has been true for a lot of this series thus far - and is another big reason I don't think I'll continue for a while.

We spend the whole book trying to figure out whodunnit, even though there's a tiny number of viable suspects, and all of them get ruled out immediately. I was trying to figure out how we could reach any sort of a satisfying reveal, and the answer was...we don't.

Even Inspector Oates says that the entire thing was completely implausible, and impossible for a normal policeman to solve in the regular way. Because the first death, and the following murders, were conducted in the most ridiculous and overly complicated ways you could possibly think of. The thing with the gun and the clock weight??? What??

All the death traps and plot holes are explained away as part of the perpetrator's "madness," but it's just...immensely lazy writing.

I liked some of this book and some of the characters, but the mystery itself I'd rate at one star at best. It's just so dumb.

So yeah. Sorry Allingham. You're not really a Queen of Mystery to me.
Profile Image for Sarah.
Author 13 books7 followers
December 28, 2014
After three books, for the first time, Allingham takes Campion out of the thriller genre and into a much more traditional manor house murder mystery. And while she doesn't leave the solution as apparent as, say, Agatha Christie might, most of the major clues are on open display to the reader, and there is every possibility they will be able to guess at the solution before it is revealed. Allingham shows her skill at misdirection to the point where the solution, when it comes, feels almost obvious. How could you miss that? But you do. It's very clever.

Part of Allingham's misdirection is, as always, her presentation of tremendously vivid characters. This time, there's a whole houseful, lorded over by the tiny but dominating personality of eighty-six-year-old Caroline Faraday, who keeps a raven's watchful eye on her flighty and selfish family. We are reminded again and again that all emotion seems to have been driven from her personality in her attempt to keep control, and it is to this end that she enlists Campion as her personal eyes and ears during the investigation. The intellectual dance they keep up through the novel is almost beguiling: one, masked in stoicism, the other, masked as a fool. Their interactions lead to a delightful and surprising resolution.

Police at the Funeral comes at the end of an intense writing period for Allingham, which may explain the lackluster title; after this, she took a longer-than-usual break before the next in the series. Perhaps she even contemplated ending it here. Had that been the case, it doubtless would have ended Mr. Campion's adventures on a very high note; this is a strong, assured piece of work, very engaging and well on-par with more famous mysteries of the period. Like Mr. Campion himself, it deserves better recognition.
Profile Image for Karina.
637 reviews44 followers
June 4, 2020
Had I checked these notes before rereading, I would have stopped right there and skipped over this book in the series. Horrendously racist and the elderly matriarch who is a horrible tyrant to her family is a terrible figure, rather than the attractive one the narrative wants us to believe.

Last read 3rd October 2014.
I was prepared for the low level racism endemic in novels of this time period, but not for the full-on plot details hinging on it...ugh. I found myself rooting for someone meant to be a most unsympathetic character when the denouement revealed the reason for their ill treatment by their family. Other than that, a pretty efficient classic thriller.
Profile Image for Meep.
2,118 reviews201 followers
August 14, 2023
Fascinating though, or perhaps because of, being dated.

Interestingly we're not following an innocent character. Champion's friend is very much in the background, this is very much Campion's case. For once we see him detect.

The character Campion has matured with the series, now the fourth book he's graduated from passing entertainment to having value. There's respect between him and aged matriarch Caroline. She know his real identity, which is treated almost with shame by our detective.

Aging mansion filled with an aging family and murder shakes things up. Caroline rules the household absolute, the feckless inhabitants may chaff but none amount to anything.

It's interesting to glimpse a bygone age, presented here as rapidly fading, while the still suspicious 'modern outlook' is itself now of a past era.
I will warn for racism; not presented as ok, but not called out - very much an attitude of the time.

Audio narration is David Thorpe - the irritating high Campion voice, some awful female voices, plus a distinct accent appearing at times. Characters occasionally whisper where the audio drops to indistinct and there are two jumps where lines get repeated. I like his narration but wish he'd leave off doing voices.
Profile Image for Christine.
518 reviews17 followers
March 5, 2016
Quite an enjoyable mystery. For the sake of avoiding spoilers, all I'll say is that the characters were rather interesting if rather broadly painted in some instances. The main character, Albert Campion, comes off much better here than in the previous books in the series, and now I'm glad to have given this character another chance. There's an undercurrent of sadness in his behaviour, and Allingham does an excellent job of portraying him as a likable yet slightly awkward soul. He never seems sure of how to act around others, though he possesses the skills to pretend when the need arises.

As I am reading the series in order, I can only hope that Marcus and Joyce will return in future books. I doubt Uncle William will reappear, but he really turned out to be a fascinating character, as far as archetypes go. There was just enough of a spin on the typical never-been to inspire both disdain and understanding, and by the end Allingham makes him quite endearing, if a little pathetic in his displays of genuine kindness. I got the feeling he was out of practice when it came to showing thanks, and the final effort was very touching.

Inspector Oates is delightful but somewhat scarce. The dialogue with him at the end was not very tedious, in spite of the fact that it served as an enormous info dump, and I credit that to Allingham's well-written dialogue. The characters feel very real, or rather, sound real. Not that I don't appreciate Sayers's more elaborate dialogue.

One thing that bothered me a great deal, though I understand that people held different beliefs in the past that now seem abhorrent to most, was a minor reveal at the end. Then again, I would like to think that a Great Aunt Catherine did not hold such a sordid belief, and merely feared public scandal, for all that's worth. An unpleasant aspect of an otherwise decent novel. I hope Campion continues to develop alongside a nice set of secondary characters. And Lugg! We've barely seen him at all, I should very much like to read more adventures of him at Campion's side.
Profile Image for Brian Clegg.
Author 206 books2,650 followers
April 27, 2012
I am a big fan of Allingham's Campion books, particularly the early ones, so I was delighted when Goodreads alerted me to one I'd missed over the years, particularly one set in Cambridge, a city I'm very fond of. But it was a significant disappointment.

Cambridge is wasted as a locale - it could have been set anywhere. But the problem I have with the book is that it has none of the charm of the other early Campions. It's partly because the way the mystery unfolds lacks something - but it's mostly because all the aspects of the period that we find uncomfortable today - snobbish, obsession with class, racism - are at the heart of the story. Most of the characters I think we are supposed to like, if only despite themselves are horrendous. And for some reason Campion lacks his usual sparkle and entertaining inanity, cowed it seems by admiration for these horrendous people.

If you are a Campion fan and haven't come across it, you will want to read it to add it to the list. But if you aren't familiar with these books, avoid this one like the plague.
1,272 reviews42 followers
December 21, 2015
A time capsule of a book. a family under the thumb of a formidable matriarch starts to die in unexpected ways. Campion the gentlemen detetctive saunters out of a PG wodehouse novel to solve the crime. Now ussually the combination of anything even the slightest bit Bertram Wossterish and a crime thriller would be to put it mildly my gingerbread. In this case though it failed to grip, the humour wasnt funnz enough and the crimes were not thrilling enough. I did enjoy the trip in the time machine back to the 1930s though.
Profile Image for Laura.
6,909 reviews565 followers
October 27, 2018
3* Mystery Mile (Albert Campion Mystery #2)
2* Death of a Ghost (Albert Campion Mystery #6)
2* Police at the Funeral (Albert Campion Mystery #4)
TR The Crime at Black Dudley (Albert Campion Mystery #1)
TR The Case of the Late Pig (Albert Campion Mystery #8)
Profile Image for Theresa.
346 reviews
June 12, 2018
Margery Allingham is one of the golden age mystery writers, right up there with Agatha Christie and Ngaio Marsh, and I have read several of her mysteries and enjoyed every one. "Police at the Funeral" just didn't have the same appeal for me. For some reason, this one at times seemed a little flat and slow-moving. However, I stuck with it, knowing this author's skill with providing the reader with interesting characters and intriguing plots.

Albert Campion, our hero detective, has had to come to the rescue of Inspector Stanislaus Oates more than once. This time, he is asked to stay at the home of the prestigious Faraday family, ruled by a stern matriarch, Caroline Faraday. (Why her family puts up with her domineering behavior, even though they are financially dependent, is beyond me). The atmosphere inside the home (Socrates Close) is grim and depressing and the suspense builds with each character. Who could have done away with poor Andrew Seeley?

After two deaths and the threat of more, the undaunted Campion once again solves the case (and how he did it, I honestly don't know... since I was left guessing up to the very end).
Profile Image for Carmen.
2,188 reviews
April 26, 2020
'I was looking for some suitable spot to interview a young lady who has been so grossly misinformed that she believes I'm a private detective.'
The Inspector knocked out his pipe against the boiler.'Funny how these ideas get about,' he said. 'What do you call yourself these days?'
Campion looked at him reprovingly. 'Deputy Adventurer,' he said. 'I thought of that the other day. I think it sums me up perfectly.'
Profile Image for Tracey.
908 reviews28 followers
August 3, 2020
So far enjoying this one more than the previous 3. Reminds me a little of A Series of Unfortunate Events with the dysfunctional family and happenings.
Profile Image for Kerry.
1,511 reviews87 followers
March 16, 2022
On a Margery Allingham list I'm on, someone accidently posted a message that was meant to go to a different Allingham list - one for group reads of the Campion books. This seemed like an excellent idea and I nipped over and joined. They are still early in the series (this is the fourth book) so I jumped in with glee. I've read Police at the Funeral before, but on starting it, I couldn't remember exactly what happened or who "dunnit". In fact, as I kept reading, I still couldn't remember. While my terrible memory (made worse by all my years of CFS) is often a detriment, in this case it was a great advantage.

The story appears simple: an old friend of Campion's asks his to ease his fiance's fears about the disappearance of her uncle. However, the story gets murkier and nastier and more confusing with each passing page. The lost Uncle Andrew is part of a decidedly dysfunction family still living in the 1890's or so (the book is set in 1931) and run with an iron fist by Great Aunt Caroline who keeps her middle-aged children (William, Julia and Kitty) and nephew, Andrew, at home with her and treats them as if they were still in the nursery.

By the time Campion arrives in Cambridge, Uncle Andrew has been found dead. By the time he's been there a couple of days, Aunt Julia is dead under mysterious circumstances and Uncle William is under suspicion of murder. It is up to Campion to solve the mystery, save the family name and hopefully prevent any more deaths.

It is in this book that Allingham's writing becomes much deeper and more serious than it was in the earlier Campion books, which have a certain Boy's Own Adventure atmosphere to them. This novel, despite a strong and moody description of London at the very beginning, looks like it may be the same. Campion, lurking in a deliberately dramatic hidden meeting place and dressed in a Holmes-style deerstalker cap, waits to meet a young woman and soothe her worries with a performance as the "clever detective". But it is soon clear her troubles are real ones and Campion abandons his frivolity at the same moment he abandons the cap, becoming serious about the case. Despite his sometimes contradictory appearance, he is to remain so in his following adventures in print. Allingham's skill in description also comes to the fore, as the forbidding house in Socrates Close almost becomes a character in its own right - and a disturbing and dangerous character too.

As I said, I couldn't remember who the murderer was as I re-read Police at the Funeral. Up to the revelation I still didn't. I was both surprised and disappointed. The solution was clever, although the character's immediately assumption to why it had all been done did seem rather simplistic to me. However, I think that is just a difference in seventy year's perspective. We try to make some things more complicated these days.

This is a good book and I enjoyed spending time with Campion again. I am looking forward to re-reading Sweet Danger with the list. Yay, I'll get to meet Amanda all over again.

[Copied across from Library Thing; 25 September 2012]
Profile Image for ShanDizzy .
1,061 reviews
June 12, 2018
"There's rank evil there," he went on unexpectedly fixing his bright eyes on the others face and speaking with an intense sincerity which finally removed any trace of his former frigidity. "There they are, a family forty years out of date, all vigorous energetic people by temperament, all, save for the old lady, without their fair share of brains, and herded together in that great mausoleum of a house, tyrannised over by one of the most astounding personalities I've ever encountered. Imagine it, Campion, there are stricter rules in that house than you or I were ever forced to keep at our schools. And there is no escape."

"You see," he went on earnestly, "there's no vent to the suppressed hatreds, petty jealousies, desires and impulses of any living soul under that roof. The old lady holds the purse strings and is the first and final court of appeal. Not one of her dependents can get away without having to face starvation since not one of them is remotely qualified to earn a sixpence.

"Now in that atmosphere, although I don't like to think it, I can't help imagining that anything might happen,"

"You are certain, in fact," said Mr. Campion, "that it's one of the family.

I just finished the last sentence of this story and my mouth is agape! The first word that came to my mind was maniacal. How diabolically, insanely evil!!! Wow!

Profile Image for Julie.
1,573 reviews43 followers
May 10, 2022
I have loved all the Campion books I have read which makes my disappointment over this book all the more troubling. I was enjoying the mystery up until the very end, when the solution to the crimes was revealed. Wow. I was not expecting that. Being biracial is a crime worse than murder!?!?! Uh.....If Allingham had written it so the character proclaiming that was seen as a loathsome person it would have been ok. Her horrible statement would be a confirmation of the negative portrayal written by the author. But - and this is a big but - Allingham writes the scene in a way that the reader is supposed to like that character. Campion likes her. The narrative is laid out in a way that presents this racist old lady as a good person. It was like being punched in the gut by someone you've being chatting with and laughing with in a friendly manner. Then, out of the blue, BAM. Really left a sour taste in my mouth and impacted the way I perceive the book. And it was such a fine, entertaining golden era mystery up to that moment. Sigh. Two stars because it was a fun mystery until the final ten pages or so.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Elisabeth.
Author 23 books176 followers
December 3, 2019
Much like the last Allingham mystery I read (The Case of the Late Pig), I didn't really have any criticisms to make about the complexity of the plot or the author's writing skills, but I failed to really enjoy it simply because most of the characters, and the overall tone of the book, were so unpleasant. Even though there are a few decent people involved, they aren't very well-developed and seem overshadowed by the general nastiness. After all, a murder mystery can be properly serious and yet also entertain; and the best mystery authors seem to have the best knack for balancing darkness and light. Allingham just doesn't do that for me, and after a few strikes I really don't have any interest in exploring her work any further.
Profile Image for Anastasia.
1,519 reviews70 followers
April 11, 2015
Police at the funeral by Margery Allingham is the 4th book featuring Albert Campion. Campion is asked to look into the disappearance of Andrew Faraday by an old friend. This soon becomes a murder case when Andrew's body is discovered shot and bound and then another member of the family is poisoned. A classic detective story with plenty of clues and red herring, competently solved by Campion leading to a satisfying and surprising conclusion. I enjoyed this book very much and will look for his other cases.
Profile Image for Teri-K.
2,109 reviews47 followers
January 2, 2018
A very good example of the country house murder, where clearly a member of the family is killing everyone else off. I loved all of it until the very end, where incredulous was the only word I could think of. It's very clever, but I can't be happy with such an unlikely series of events, especially the ease with which Campion broke the suspect down. Much too convenient for my taste. Still, 95% of the story was excellent.
Profile Image for Andrea.
Author 25 books784 followers
April 16, 2018
Moving out of the rarefied atmosphere of international crime rings, this is a English house mystery with a twist, chock-full of excessive characters. A couple of uncomfortable moments on the racism front, and quite a puzzler of a mystery.
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