English Mysteries Club discussion

The Tiger in the Smoke (Albert Campion Mystery, #14)
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Book of the Month pre-2020 > May 2014 - The Tiger in the Smoke

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Kathleen Sometimes you just have to make a decision. :)


Leanne (littlebunnylibrary) Can't wait to read this! x


Karlyne Landrum I'm glad! I'm due for a re-read of this. But not at night.


message 4: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie (quiltsrme) I'll be able to get this one as an audiobook, so will be listening to it, although not sure I'll be done by the 15th.


message 5: by Kay (new)

Kay | 218 comments Good choice.. I have the book and look forward to rereading and discussing it.


Dave Spillane I could not wait and started it today ! - Excellent so far


John Frankham (johnfrankham) | 209 comments One of my very favourite crime/detective novels. What an atmosphere of London created.


Susan I have only read the first Campion book, so have started this, but am hoping it doesn't matter too much that this is the fourteenth book in the series....


Karlyne Landrum Susan wrote: "I have only read the first Campion book, so have started this, but am hoping it doesn't matter too much that this is the fourteenth book in the series...."

Well, his personal life is different, and he's more mature, but that's to be expected by the fourteenth book!


Susan Yes, that's why I hate reading series out of order. I've started it and am liking it, but I feel a little lost!


Karlyne Landrum Oh, good grief, I have to go find my copy! I'd forgotten about reading it this month.


message 12: by Mark Pghfan (new)

Mark Pghfan I read the first Campion (Crime at Black Dudley) is not much like his later books. He is really only a minor character in it.


message 13: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 102 comments My copy hasn't arrived yet. :(


Leslie | 1663 comments John wrote: "One of my very favourite crime/detective novels. What an atmosphere of London created."

Interesting - I agree that it is very atmospheric but this isn't one of Allingham's that I like very much. Too creepy I think.


Karlyne Landrum The first few pages, where the fog is described so well that I can smell it, are amazing descriptions. I haven't read this in ages, either, because it's so creepy! And I will not read it before bed.


message 16: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen Cortlund | 21 comments I'm really enjoying this book. I hadn't read Allingham for a long time and had forgotten how good she is, if a bit old- fashioned.


Karlyne Landrum This isn't my favorite Allingham, but it's still better than most anybody else! I don't even mind Inspector Luke as long as I take his theatrical mannerisms as being involuntary and not a put-on.


message 18: by Kay (new)

Kay | 218 comments I hadn't' read this book in many years so it was like reading it for the first time. I liked it a lot and didn't find it too creepy. But then I am a fan of Jo Nesbø. I remember that it did scare me when I read it the first time.


Karlyne Landrum I remember in a Mary Westmacott (an Agatha Christie alias), Absent in the Spring, the heroine gets stranded in the desert with just a couple of books, and she thinks that maybe Tiger in the Smoke might not have been the most relaxing read she could have brought along with her!


message 20: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen Cortlund | 21 comments I'm really enjoying this book. I hadn't read Allingham for a long time and had forgotten how good she is, if a bit old- fashioned.


Karlyne Landrum Kathleen wrote: "I'm really enjoying this book. I hadn't read Allingham for a long time and had forgotten how good she is, if a bit old- fashioned."

Old-fashioned in the police work or the wording or?


Karlyne Landrum When I started this, I was vaguely surprised that it wasn't the way I remembered it beginning. Except for the fog, nothing was what I thought it was. And that's because this is not the book I was remembering! I thought it had political overtones, and now I'm wondering which book in the world I had it mixed up with. There's nothing political about this one...

On a less confused note, it really is a good thriller, and I'm loving how new it is to me!


message 23: by Kathleen (last edited May 19, 2014 12:34PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kathleen I have watched the Campion TV series and enjoyed it, but I did not enjoy this book. It was a well-crafted story, but I found the characters confusing and the language too ornate. I think I would have found it scarier if the language did not get in the way.


Karlyne Landrum Kathleen, was it because the language was not understandable (too British or colloquial) or the sentences too long? Too many characters?


message 25: by Kay (new)

Kay | 218 comments The language was ornate but I just thought that was because of the time in which it was written.


Karlyne Landrum I must be too immersed in old language from the Golden Age, because I didn't notice it at all!

I just finished it this morning, and I have to say that I loved it. I loved the twist of the Science of Luck, and the whole weird spiral of humor in the ending.

And to think that I hadn't read it (I don't remember it at all!) because I thought it was a political thriller...


message 27: by Mark Pghfan (new)

Mark Pghfan I think that the style of language is what keeps Allingham from being as popular today as, say, Christie, who used much more plain language and less complicated sentences. I have to admit, the language does seem overly "flowerly."


Karlyne Landrum Pghfan wrote: "I think that the style of language is what keeps Allingham from being as popular today as, say, Christie, who used much more plain language and less complicated sentences. I have to admit, the lan..."

Do you think she was more wordy than, say, D.L. Sayers?


message 29: by Mark Pghfan (new)

Mark Pghfan Good question, Karlyne. I think that Sayers is pretty wordy (look at the length of some of the later books!) but in a more easily readable style. Allingham's prose doesn't seem to flow well, at least for me.


Karlyne Landrum I found Allingham after Sayers, and I remember thinking that Campion was much more physical than Wimsey and that his stories were more violent, more in the thriller vein, not generally my preference.

I think it is a subjective style liking or disliking, though, because I do enjoy Allingham. I liked the ending in Tiger in the Smoke, especially, because the whole evil degenerating into nothingness as it's being confronted with reality rang true to me. It made me shiver!


message 31: by Mark Pghfan (new)

Mark Pghfan I'm not that far along in the book yet--about a third of the way so far.


Karlyne Landrum OOPS! Well, it was just a bit of a spoiler, right?


message 33: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 102 comments Leslie wrote: "Interesting - I agree that it is very atmospheric but this isn't one of Allingham's that I like very much. Too creepy I think.
"


I'm not sure I think of it as creepy, but I agree that it isn't a favorite Allingham of mine. I find the writing a bit clunky and overdone. And when Dickens did fog as well as he did, it's very hard to do a fog scene without being unfavorably contrasted with him.


message 34: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 102 comments Kathleen wrote: "I found the language too ornate."

You put your finger on the perfect word I was searching for.


message 35: by Helen (new)

Helen (helenfrominyocounty) | 90 comments I thought the language was Allingham at her best, but it is definitely an acquired taste. While I enjoyed this book, because I enjoy her writing and her superb characterizations, I found there wasn't enough Campion to my liking, and the ending is a total rip-off. However, the literary device she used was often found in books, of her era and before. You don't see too much of it after WWII; the world was perhaps more black and white then, and the grey area of how one atones for one's sins quite different.


message 36: by John (new) - rated it 5 stars

John Frankham (johnfrankham) | 209 comments Tiger In The Smoke is generally regarded as her best book, I think, and partly because, like those of her books with less Campion than we would like, she is making serious points about society, in this case about the lack of opportunity after WWII, and the problems resulting.

I have always loved it. And am going to re-read it now, but looking through it at random, I'm puzzled by the ornate/flowery accusations. Examples?

Of course, when Allingham started the series, she was making passing fun of Lord Peter Wimsey. Now there's tedious pretentious bilge - in Gaudy Night, for instance! But each to his own.


message 37: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 102 comments John wrote: Of course, when Allingham started the series, she was making passing fun of Lord Peter Wimsey. Now there's tedious pretentious bilge - in Gaudy Night, for instance! "

I take precisely the opposite view. I find all of Sayers, but Gaudy Night in particular, to be the most intellectually interesting mystery writing ever produced. The sonnet sequence in Gaudy Night is as good as anything ever written. (Although I admit that the plot of GN is not all that finely crafted. But it's more than adequate, and well above the quality of most mystery plots.)


message 38: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 102 comments John wrote: "I'm puzzled by the ornate/flowery accusations. Examples?"

Well, I'll try a few from early in the book, to avoid spoilers for those who haven't finished it yet. BTW, I agree more with ornate than flowery. And also, inaccurate.

"Already the traffic was at an irritable crawl...To the west the Park dripped wretchedly and to the north the great railway terminus slammed and banged and exploded hollowly about its affairs. Between lay winding miles of butter-coloured stucco in every conceivable state of repair." [People can be irritable; traffic can't. And how can a railway terminus do anything active like slamming or banging? Answer: it can't.]

or

"The fog was thickening and the glass-and-iron roof was lost in its greasy drapery. The yellow lights achieved but a shabby brilliance and only the occasional plumes of steam from the locomotives were clean in the gloom." [What the heck is greasy drapery in a glass and iron roof?]

You may not agree that those are examples of overly ornate writing, but to my ear, they are. She tries too hard to make simple things overly complex. Straightforward language works best. Contrast the above, for example, with Dickens's treatment of fog in Bleak House. His language is much more direct, much simpler, and IMO much more powerful. There are no greasy draperies, no hollow explosions, no personified railway stations.

Fog everywhere. Fog up the river, where it flows among green aits and meadows; fog down the river, where it rolls defiled among the tiers of shipping and the waterside pollutions of a great (and dirty) city. Fog on the Essex marshes, fog on the Kentish heights. Fog creeping into the cabooses of collier-brigs; fog lying out on the yards and hovering in the rigging of great ships; fog drooping on the gunwales of barges and small boats. Fog in the eyes and throats of ancient Greenwich pensioners, wheezing by the firesides of their wards; fog in the stem and bowl of the afternoon pipe of the wrathful skipper, down in his close cabin; fog cruelly pinching the toes and fingers of his shivering little 'prentice boy on deck. Chance people on the bridges peeping over the parapets into a nether sky of fog, with fog all round them, as if they were up in a balloon and hanging in the misty clouds.


Kathleen Exactly.


message 40: by John (new) - rated it 5 stars

John Frankham (johnfrankham) | 209 comments Everyman - Well, we'll just have to disagree. Your Allingham example just seems wrong. 'An irritable crawl' is as acceptable as Wodehouse's 'I smoked a thoughtful cigarette', and Dickens' 'bowl of the afternoon pipe' and cruel fog.

And while I also like Dorothy Sayers, and, irrelevantly, Gaudy Night was my Mum's favourite crime novel,I have just been looking at various reviews of the book, and clearly there are split opinions.

Give me Michael Innes and Edmund Crispen for intellect with fun.


Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice* (sandyj21) Everyman wrote: "John wrote: "I'm puzzled by the ornate/flowery accusations. Examples?"

Well, I'll try a few from early in the book, to avoid spoilers for those who haven't finished it yet. BTW, I agree more with..."


I rather like an "irritable crawl of traffic" - think it describes a traffic jam magnificently!


message 42: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 102 comments John wrote: "Everyman - Well, we'll just have to disagree."

Which is as it should be. If we all agreed, this would be a horribly dull place.

You questioned my opinion, I offered my defense, you chose whether or not to agree with me, and that's exactly how these discussions should work.


message 43: by John (new) - rated it 5 stars

John Frankham (johnfrankham) | 209 comments Everyman - just so. Looking forward to crossing swords with you in The Pickwick Club. Having been inspired by Jean, I have finished in order Pickwick, Oliver, NichN, and now The Old Curiosity (as well as A Tale of Two Cities). Tears and laughter and much fun; and some irritation. Just starting Barnaby Rudge, so won't catch up with the group with Martin Chuzzlewit for a week or two. I believe you have strong views about Little Nell, but I don't think she has enough substance to argue about?


message 44: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 102 comments John wrote: "I believe you have strong views about Little Nell, but I don't think she has enough substance to argue about? "

I will save my fire for that group and that discussion. But you had best have your strongest intellectual armor on!


Karlyne Landrum John and Everyman, you made me chuckle! But I'm going to agree with both of you, because I'm running for office. Haha! No, I'm not...
I love the irritated traffic line, because it makes me see snarling Bentleys and supercilious Jaguars and annoyed English Fords.
And I love Gaudy Night, too, not for its story necessarily but for its characters. I probably was already invested in Wimsey by the time I read it, but I found myself being quite fond of Harriet, too, after GN.


message 46: by John (new) - rated it 5 stars

John Frankham (johnfrankham) | 209 comments Karlyne - fancy being the first female Secretary-General of the United Nations? You sound just the right candidate!


Karlyne Landrum Heheheheee. Can't reply; too busy falling off the chair, laughing. Be back later!


message 48: by Mark Pghfan (new)

Mark Pghfan I am continuing to work my way through this, though not liking it much. It was bad enough reading the awful dialect of the people who kidnapped Geoffrey, but when Allingham brought in an albino, I nearly tossed the book. Needs more Campion, editing and coherence, I think.


message 49: by John (new) - rated it 5 stars

John Frankham (johnfrankham) | 209 comments Pghfan - just for interest, was the dialect awful because hard to understand, or something else? I can assure you it's very authentic. I grew up in South London in the 1950s, and loads of people spoke exactly like that. That ain't no lie, guvna.


message 50: by Mark Pghfan (new)

Mark Pghfan Just hard to understand. I've no doubt it's authentic.


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