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Look to the Lady (Albert Campion Mystery, #3)
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Albert Campion group/buddy reads > Look to the Lady - Margery Allingham - SPOILER Thread

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Susan | 10517 comments Mod
Welcome to our May/June Buddy Read Thread:

Look to the Lady by Margery Allingham was first published in 1931 and is the third Albert Campion mystery.

This involves a family heirloom - the Gyrth Chalice - and a group of devious criminals planning to steal it.

Please feel free to post spoilers in this thread.


message 2: by Susan (last edited May 15, 2018 10:27PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Susan | 10517 comments Mod
I have finished this now. I was, sadly, underwhelmed by this. I will try the next one, which Judy assures me forsakes the criminal gangs for more of a traditional mystery.


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9413 comments Mod
I've finished this now, too - I really enjoyed it, loved Campion's character as always, and liked some of the strange plot twists.

However, I'm still puzzling over the ending and the sheer oddness of the mummified (?) figure guarding the chalice. Some elements of this, such as the different chalices, rather reminded me of the film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade!


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9413 comments Mod
Still musing on the ending, I wondered if there is a hint that something supernatural actually happened, to scare the fearsome Mrs Shannon so effectively?


Rosina (rosinarowantree) | 847 comments Judy wrote: "Still musing on the ending, I wondered if there is a hint that something supernatural actually happened, to scare the fearsome Mrs Shannon so effectively?"

There is definitely the suggestion that something spooky happened to spook Mrs Shannon. Whether the visor was just open (while it had been closed when the men saw it) or whether the Guardian actually opened it while Mrs S was looking in is left unclear. Possibly she just imagined something, in the dark, but there is the small sound that Campion hears. That also might have a natural explanation, but I think we're meant to be impressed with this supernatural explanation of how the Gyrths protect their chalice.


Jill (dogbotsmum) | 2179 comments I looked up the Indianna Jones to see if the film was taken from a book that was written before this book as it had a crusader keeping guard over the challis, but found nothing, so I assumed the film borrowed the idea from this book.
To me , I assumed that Mrs Shannon , dangling from a rope was shocked by the sight of this guardian even if she couldn't see the full face because of the visor she had looked into the eyes.but was still cleverly done to leave us all wondering.
The hint of the supernatural, was in my opinion, what made this book different from all the other detective stories of this time. We had already been led to believe there was a witch, and then been reassured that it was done by a mother protecting her son,so putting our minds at rest on that account, then at the end we are asked again to reconsider our ideas of dismissing of the supernatural


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9413 comments Mod
Jill wrote: "I looked up the Indianna Jones to see if the film was taken from a book that was written before this book as it had a crusader keeping guard over the challis, but found nothing, so I assumed the film borrowed the idea from this book. ..."

Thanks, Jill, could well be! It also had the elaborate mock chalice and the real one being of a more plain design. I wonder if they are both drawing on Arthurian legends, but I don't know, just guessing here...

Rosina and Jill, I like your thoughts about the hint of the supernatural - I wasn't sure if I was reading this right. The fact that Mrs Shannon is so hard-bitten and nasty suggests it would need to be something truly terrifying to scare her to her death.


Susan | 10517 comments Mod
Well, I have also finished this. Not sure at all what I think about it - the ending was very odd.


Sandy | 3008 comments Mod
I just finished, haven't even rated or reviewed yet, and my first thought is that the ending might have been better if the guardian had been left to the reader's imagination.

I enjoyed the romp but will be pleased when / if Campion settles down to more reasonable adventures.

The hints at all his past adventures are amusing, especially as I picture him as being fairly young. He has a past life that we will never know. (Much like Allyen writing a revered handbook behind my back, when I think of him as just learning his profession.)


Susan | 10517 comments Mod
There seem to be a lot of criminal gangs in some GA books - Patricia Wentworth had one, for example. However, I find that whole, organised crime idea, much less interesting that a good, old fashioned murder!


message 11: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9413 comments Mod
Yes, there are a lot of criminal gangs around in GA - there's one in the second Inspector French book, which I'm currently reading, Inspector French and the Cheyne Mystery by Freeman Wills Crofts, which so far is a highly entertaining romp.

I can enjoy these adventure/thriller style books (elaborate thefts and escapes make a change from murder now and again), but am a bit miffed if it only turns out at the very end that a gang was involved, especially if half the characters were disguised as someone else!

As far as I remember, the Campion series is a mixture of thrillers and more traditional mysteries, but the mood overall does darken and become less playful as the series goes on, as with other GA series.


message 12: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9413 comments Mod
Although the book is written with such a light touch, there are hints of the deep friendship between Lugg and Campion - I liked the bit where the tables are turned and Campion is having to look after the fearsome ex-con for a change!

I was also interested to see that Campion is still suffering from his unreciprocated love for Biddy in the previous book.


message 13: by Jill (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jill (dogbotsmum) | 2179 comments I also liked Campion "mothering" Lugg, and there was obviously a great friendship between them. I don't mind the gangs. I suppose I do associate gangs with that time due to all the old films seen as a child.


Sandy | 3008 comments Mod
The relationship between Campion and Lugg is one of the books strongest points. It was good to see how concerned Campion was; a time he did not put on his inane act.


Susan | 10517 comments Mod
I can't seem to warm to Lugg. I seem to be missing the point of Campion and Lugg somehow. I know full well this is my fault, by the way!


message 16: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9413 comments Mod
I love Lugg - I keep wondering about their back story together. I can't remember if it is ever gone into in detail, but I suspect not - just hints of how they met and got together.

Susan, I think maybe some characters and relationships just appeal more to some of us than they do to others. I like the idea of the grumpy old ex-con and the aristocrat, and the way their sarcastic banter covers up their real feelings. :)


Pamela (bibliohound) | 395 comments I've just finished this and liked it a lot, I vaguely remembered reading it years ago. I like Campion and Lugg, and the hints about their mysterious past.


Susan | 10517 comments Mod
I think if either Campion, or Lugg, were over the top, it would work better. However, they are both so over the top, that it really feels like a parody to me. With Wimsey, he is all Top-Ho, etc. but Bunter is the straight guy, so it works. I don't know, but I am trying to like them, rather than actually liking them.


message 19: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9413 comments Mod
Susan, have you seen any of the TV adaptations? I do like Brian Glover as Lugg even though his accent is not great, and perhaps his portrayal might help?


Leslie | 592 comments Rosina wrote: "Judy wrote: "Still musing on the ending, I wondered if there is a hint that something supernatural actually happened, to scare the fearsome Mrs Shannon so effectively?"

There is definitely the sug..."


This 'hint' of the supernatural at the end was one of the reasons that I downgraded my previous 4* rating to 3*. For me, it just didn't fit. But maybe that is just part of the fact that I found the whole book didn't quite work for me - the blend of adventure story with mystery is something I normally enjoy but didn't really this time.


Susan | 10517 comments Mod
This really didn't work for me. I will try the next book though, as Judy informs me is more of a 'mystery.' Keen to give Allingham a reasonable try :)


Frances (francesab) | 413 comments Do we ever find out more about Campion's backstory as the series progresses? I always get a bit frustrated with books that give hints of some exciting events in a main characters past but never fill in the details.

Did I miss something, or do we learn much about how Val Gyrth ended up living on the streets? I know there was an "undesirable" marriage, but it seemed quite farfetched for his apparently loving family to just leave him homeless.

I also agree that this was more of a crime caper than a mystery novel-hoping this changes in later novels.


message 23: by Jill (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jill (dogbotsmum) | 2179 comments I felt it was down to Gyrth's feelings for his father after disapproving of the marriage and it's tragic ending that stopped him going home to his father's house. As for Campion's backstory, I quite like the fact it is mysterious. We do know that he was in love with a girl , but lost her to someone else. But other than that I don't think we know more., maybe further books will add to it.


message 24: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9413 comments Mod
I think we do find out some more about Campion's background, Frances - there are one or two books where we meet members of his family, although I don't think everything is filled in. I rather like the fact that he keeps some element of mystery.

On Val, as I read it, the explanation was that he was too proud to go back home after the family rejected his bride, and preferred to live rough rather than going to them for money after she died and everything fell apart.

But when he hears that the family are in trouble and need him, he decides he must go back and be reconciled with them.

I think quite a few of the Campion stories are adventure stories/thrillers, but there are some which are more traditional mysteries, too. I like both.


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