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Police at the Funeral (Albert Campion Mystery, #4)
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Albert Campion group/buddy reads > Police at the Funeral - Margery Allingham - SPOILER Thread

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Susan | 10513 comments Mod
The fourth Campion novel is a more traditional mystery than the earlier books. Published in 1931, this book sees Campion requested to investigate a missing uncle and an eccentric family - but things soon turn to murder.

Please feel free to post spoilers in this thread.


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9411 comments Mod
The plot in this one seems rather Christie-esque to me, with its house full of grown-up children dominated by their mother - rather like two or three books by her we read last year, as well as the first in the Jane Haddam series.

However, this one has a fiendish twist of its own - which, unfortunately, once you've read the book once, you are extremely likely to remember on subsequent readings! Although I remembered it, I still enjoyed it because it is so clever.


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9411 comments Mod
Did anyone reading this one for the first time guess the twist? I'm sure I wouldn't have done if I hadn't known it already.


Jill (dogbotsmum) | 2177 comments Judy wrote: "Did anyone reading this one for the first time guess the twist? I'm sure I wouldn't have done if I hadn't known it already."

No . This had me guessing right up to the end of the book. That is really what makes a good mystery for me.


Susan | 10513 comments Mod
I wasn't really that convinced by the ending, to be honest. Shoving a penknife into a shelf does not seem a really good way of trying to hurt someone. Unless you are very unlucky, the first prick of the knife should make you draw your hand back. Other methods - the pill, and the pipe, were more well thought out, but all relied on chance.

I felt it was a little sad, too, that Andrew's mother never felt any sadness at his loss. She was quite harsh, in many ways - not least to Cousin George, whose 'great secret' (such as it was) was hardly his own fault.


Sandy | 3004 comments Mod
I realized Andrew could have murdered his sister as the pill could have been doctored at any time. However, I had no suspicion he faked his suicide / murder. And I have doubts it would have come off as well as it did.

If I remember correctly the penknife had been poisoned with snake venom, but, being organic, it degraded over time. So a small prick could have been fatal. Campion mentioned being suspicious of poisoning, but if he said why I missed it.


Sandy | 3004 comments Mod
Does anyone know why this title?


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9411 comments Mod
Sandy wrote: "Does anyone know why this title?"

Good question - I can't see that the title has much to do with the book. It made me think this was going to be a different story I remember from somewhere along the line, which actually does start off with police at a funeral!

Usually I think Allingham's titles are great, but this one misses the mark somewhat, I'd say.


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9411 comments Mod
Sandy wrote: "Does anyone know why this title?"

Good question - I can't see that the title has much to do with the book. It made me think this was going to be a different story I remember from somewhere along the line, which actually does start off with police at a funeral!

Usually I think Allingham's titles are great, but this one misses the mark somewhat, I'd say.


message 10: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9411 comments Mod
Good points about the poisoned penknife, Susan and Sandy. I think the element I found a unconvincing was the suicide/faked murder, though it didn't stop me enjoying the book.


Susan | 10513 comments Mod
Ah, I was listening to an audiobook version. I must have missed the poisoning reference while negotiating a roundabout, or something :)

Sadly, the Margery Allingham website does not throw light on the title. Maybe it related to Caroline Faraday's dislike of scandal? Or possibly, and more likely, it's a quote?


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

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9411 comments Mod
I don't think the title is a quote, Susan - I thought that seemed really likely when I saw your comment, but just tried googling it and only came up with quotes from the book. Could be an obscure quote, though...

Maybe just a mention of Stanislaus Oates taking a fairly prominent role? I enjoy his character.


Pamela (bibliohound) | 395 comments I was baffled by the title too, so glad I wasn't the only one!

I really enjoyed this mystery, the methods of disposing of his enemies seemed far-fetched but Andrew knew their weaknesses - he knew that William would come looking for the brandy in his room, for example.


message 14: by Pamela (last edited Jul 15, 2018 01:03PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Pamela (bibliohound) | 395 comments I also agree that Caroline Faraday's character is now very dated - the family scandal would no longer be an issue at all, and her control over the family wouldn't be seen in a positive light today.

Re. her feelings about Andrew, I think she disliked him because he wrote that unkind book about her husband (his uncle) who was held in high regard in the family.


message 15: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9411 comments Mod
I think Caroline's reaction to George's parentage would have been shocking and outdated even at the time of publication - even more so now of course.

Odd how many of these parents who control their adult children feature in classic mysteries.


message 16: by Jill (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jill (dogbotsmum) | 2177 comments Haha So let that be a lesson to us all!


Susan | 10513 comments Mod
It seemed to be a control of money - most of the children had left home, but returned, for some reason or another. I was surprised at how much Campion seemed impressed by Caroline and not question her attitudes, or behaviour, at all.


message 18: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9411 comments Mod
Control of money is right, Susan - she definitely uses it to make everyone do what she wants!

Although Campion is impressed by her, I thought he felt that she was very harsh - possibly similar to his own aristocratic relatives who led to him breaking with the family, according to a brief mention in the previous book?


Frances (francesab) | 413 comments I haven't reread this time as it was fairly recently that I read this, but I remember really being shocked and uncomfortable finding out what the "family scandal" was, perhaps because it wasn't clear whether the author, or Campion, felt that this was unreasonable or an abhorrent position to be taking. As I read more GA or earlier mysteries (or novels in general) I do find it difficult when such casual racism (or sexism, or homophobia) is written, and often appears to be the assumed position of the characters and of the reader.


Susan | 10513 comments Mod
It is very uncomfortable - particularly in modern times.


message 21: by Judy (last edited Jul 17, 2018 01:15PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9411 comments Mod
Frances and Susan, I certainly took it that Allingham and Campion both disapprove of Caroline Faraday's prejudiced attitude, although I agree it's a pity this isn't stated outright.

I do think she is portrayed as someone from a bygone age who has made her family's lives a misery and is in some ways responsible for the tragedy that unfolds - but at the same time she is made quite an attractive character in a way, a grand old lady etc, which does make it all the more uncomfortable when she comes out with the "secret".

I've just found an interesting review which looks at this aspect of the plot and says it is a sticking-point for many readers - it also looks at the TV adaptation, which did not include this plot point. Also some good discussion in the comments, getting a bit heated towards the end though:

https://bloodymurder.wordpress.com/20...


message 22: by Jill (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jill (dogbotsmum) | 2177 comments I realise that the subjects in a lot of these books do offend people , but I think you must bear in mind that these were common at the time. I expect future generations will be offended by some of the views that are commonly held today. Unfortunately, some of the views in these books are still held today by some, race, religion , sexual preferences, to name a few.


Rosina (rosinarowantree) | 847 comments I try to distinguish between the characters' view, including the point of view narrator's, and the author's. Even if everyone distrusts and despises the character of colour, does the author ensure that in his recorded activities (once the misunderstandings are cleared up) he is not bound by the racist stereotypes that the other characters believe in. Even if the narrative voice doesn't alter their opinion.

My most recent peeve isn't from racism though, it's from misogyny. Inspector Morse is an awful misogynist. He seems to see all women as sexual objects, and as sexual objects, always ready to betray their husbands and anyone else, for sexual adventure. That would be acceptable, except that Colin Dexter rarely includes a female character whose actions don't meet Morse's pre-conceptions. Lewis's wife is an exception (so far in the series).


Susan | 10513 comments Mod
I never read past the first Morse, for just that reason, Rosina. I suppose, with books from that era, it is just that little further back and so I see them as not being relevant to modern society; whereas Morse was a little closer.

I do think that some authors, such as Christianna Brand, suffered a lot from modern sensibilities, as she just relies too much on stereotypes. With Campion, this is obviously not HIS opinion and the side characters in any novel - even modern ones - are capable of homophobia, racism or sexism. When it is the main character, like Morse, it jars more.


message 25: by Robin (new)

Robin Rosin a, how I agree! I cannot stand Morse. Misogynist and so pompous. A major problem is that it is seen as acceptable as he is the main character and thw 'winner' as he solves the problem. When a character has such flaws but has been drawn as a failure or someone with whom the reader dies not identify I think that the author is undermining such views.


Louise Culmer | 114 comments I didn't care greatly for this one, finding the characters too grotesque to be interesting. also not sure I can stand yet another upper class intellectual detective, already had a lot of Wimsey and Alleyn being frightfully clever and posh.


Louise Culmer | 114 comments Robin wrote: "Rosin a, how I agree! I cannot stand Morse. Misogynist and so pompous. A major problem is that it is seen as acceptable as he is the main character and thw 'winner' as he solves the problem. When a..."

I like Morse, I think he's very entertaining, He is a bit of a misogynist, but that just makes him more believable I think. I prefer the Morse of the books because he is earthier and less depressed than the one In the tv series.


Rosina (rosinarowantree) | 847 comments Louise wrote: "Robin wrote: "Rosin a, how I agree! I cannot stand Morse. Misogynist and so pompous. A major problem is that it is seen as acceptable as he is the main character and thw 'winner' as he solves the p..."

I don't mind Morse being a misogynist. I do however find that this arises from and is shared with his author, Colin Dexter. It is not just Morse's view that women are invariable sex-mad and predatory - it's the essense of many of the mysteries.


message 29: by ChrisGA (last edited Apr 17, 2021 03:24AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

ChrisGA | 178 comments I realize this thread is three years old, but just in case someone sees this--
I totally missed the "scandal" of George's parentage. I skimmed back through the ending from George and Caroline in the library but still didn't see it. Where was it discussed? He was repeatedly called a scoundrel, bounder and blackguard but I couldn't find his parentage revealed.


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