On the fifth day of Bookgiving, my true love gave to me:
Flowers for the Judge, by Margery Allingham.
It was the seventh of her novels to feature Albert Campion, and - unlike some of her other early works, which are more thrillers than mysteries - it really is an excellent classic mystery, complete with an apparently impossible crime.
On a beautiful morning in 1911, Tom Barnabas, a director of the publishing firm Barnabas and Company, left his London house and walked down the street. Somewhere along that street, he disappeared, before he reached the tobacconist’s shop on the corner. His disappearance was never explained – or solved. Twenty years later, another director of the family firm disappears. This director, however, will reappear – very dead. His family turns to Albert Campion for help.
By the time she wrote Flowers for the Judge, Allingham's writing style had matured considerably. Campion, who suffers from a regrettable fatuity in many of the earliest books, has lost a great deal of that by the time of this book. Allingham also was creating excellent characters, more rounded and believable than they had been in the past. The author also has a number of surprises in store for the reader, not least being the solution to that mysterious disappearance. The closing chapter of the book is beautifully written and deeply moving, and the final line is really perfect - something I very much enjoy in a mystery.
Flowers for the Judge is available as a paperback from the Felony & Mayhem Press, and it's an e-book for Amazon Kindle (with other formats available, I believe); there's also an audiobook edition from Audible.
(If you came in late, here's what we're doing - I hope you'll join in!)