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`Read Epub á Death of a Ghost ó John Sebastian Lafcadio S Ambition To Be Known As The Greatest Painter Since Rembrandt Was Not To Be Thwarted By A Matter As Trifling As His Own Death A Set Of Twelve Sealed Paintings Is Left In The Hands Of His Widow, Together With The Instruction That She Unveil One Canvas Each Year Before A Carefully Selected Audience Albert Campion Is Invited To Join A Cast Of Gadabouts, Muses, And Socialites To Witness The Eighth Unveiling But They Are Treated Instead To A Murder The Lights Go Down, And A Young Man Is Stabbed To Death Campion Must Get To Work On The Baffling Case, With Its Long Suspiciously Long Line Up Of Possible Killers And Soon Finds Himself Having To Face His Dearest Enemy I m most eager to see how this installment of the Campion series translates to screen my DVD should be coming today Definitely NOT up there with the previous entries into the Campion series here he just sort of comes in and out until the very end none of the banter that helps to define who he is Without checking it out to see why, my guess is that Mr Campion is coming into his own, without the witty banter silliness from the past, he s becomingserious the series is most likely taking a new turn I wouldn t have minded that so much, but, well, it was such an abrupt change from Campion in The Fear Sign to the new Campionpersonally, imho maybe there should have been a bridge somewhere between the two so the reader s prepared for what s coming.The action takes place within the realm of the art world Campion is invited to a release of one of several paintings done by an artist who is now dead, and whose works were to be released one every year until they were gone to keep his name and work in the public Sadly, there is a death at a reception afterwards, shortly followed by another Campion knows who did it, and also knows he can t produce any evidence to prove so It s just a matter of waiting him out, but this may not be easy.It will take me some time to get used to the new Campion, since I really loved the old one Other than that, the book was okay, not one of her best, most definitely. I have been slowly reading my way through the Albert Campion books, with somewhat mixed feelings Although I am a lover of Golden Age mysteries, I have struggled with this series so far However, I was pleased to find that this, the sixth book featuring Campion, first published in 1934, is muchof a typical crime story than some of the others I have read so far, which seem to rely on the supernatural, or criminal fraternities.Campion is at the house of Belle Lafcadio, widow of the famous artist, John Lafcadio Lafcadio had left several sealed paintings, to be revealed annually, for some years after his death At this annual event, there is a murder, and, of course, Campion becomes involved in the investigation When there is another death, he realises who the murderer is the problem is, that he has no proof.Oddly, this novel highlights the fact that the police, in this case, in the form of Scotland Yard man, Stanislaus Oates while excellent at solving crimes, are less adept at preventing them Although Campion knows who the murderer is, unless, or until, they act again, the police hands are tied As such, you are involved with Campion and his attempts to prove his case.I liked thistraditional crime story and I will admit however unpopular this will be that I was pleased that the story did not involve Lugg, or any of the other rather, over the top, characters, that normally populate the pages of the Campion novels Instead, we have a closed cast of characters, many with motives, and Allingham deftly makes the beginning of the book a typical mystery and the later part of the book a duel between Campion and the criminal Definitely, to my mind, one of the most enjoyable books in the series so far. This book is OK, as far as it goes It is a thirties crime mystery based around a posh family and their connections, and almost everyone is connected with the art world in some way The initial murder, there areto come, takes place early on during the first viewing of one of the paintings which has been left by a famous artist to be revealed at the rate of one per year.Some of the characters are so appalling, that I woud have loved to have leapt into the pages of my book and killed them off myself When I say appalling, I don t mean that they are badly written, quite the contrary, but they are just people that I wouldn t ever want anywhere near me So that is good writing, is it not The main policeman in the plot is just so straight and humourless, and appears to lack the wit to outsmart a slug on the garden fence, never mind a dangerous criminal Campion also lacks humour He is such a serious man who happens to be on the scene due to his long standing connection with the widow To me, he seemed to be rather slow in picking up the clues and sorting out the motive and the killer, but I suppose that prolongs the ending.It may seem a strange thing to say about a story which revolves around the art world, but I got irritated by the amount of art talk and technicalities in this book Others may love that, but it was not for me.In summary, the book was OK, I don t regret reading it, but there are many other books out there that I should prefer to read ahead of another Campion mystery. In order to spite his arch rival Tanqueray, the painter John Lafcadio left a collection of paintings with his agent, Salmon Co., with the strict instructions to hold onto them for a decade and then release them, one by one, at annual special showings he reckoned that his death would increase demand for his work, and that the strategy would give Tanqueray an annual posthumous reminder that Lafcadio was the artist the public and the connoisseurs preferred.In fact, Tanqueray died before that initial decade was up, but Lafcadio s widow, Belle, and the inheritor of the Salmon agency, Max Fustian, continue the tradition of the annual viewing of a newly revealed Lafcadio work As a much younger friend of Belle s, Albert Campion is present at the latest showing During the traditional drinking of the sour wine, the eating of the curling cruditees and the chattering to people you d normally avoid and anyway can t hear properly because of the yammer, the lights go out When they re restored there lies on the floor stabbed through the heart with a pair of ornamental scissors Dacre, a protege of Lafcadio s and assumed fiance of Lafcadio s granddaughter Linda.The cops descend in the shape of Campion s old buddy, Inspector Stanislaus Oates of the Yard this novel predated the bursting onto the scene of Charlie Luke as Allingham s preferred cop Between them, Oates and Campion get absolutely nowhere.But then there s a second death in the sprawling Lafcadio household Claire, the managerial wife of one of Lafcadio s old hangers on, is found dead of what could have been a heart attack but proves on autopsy to have been poisoning by nicotinic acid and this time Campion knows, with a certainty that outstrips any evidence he might possess, who the culprit is and thus probably the perpetrator of the first killing, too Oates agrees with Campion s hypothesis, but the murder of Claire has been so carefully orchestrated that there s no way either man can bring the killer to justice using conventional means Campion even considers especially when he realizes the danger that Belle and Linda might be in simply taking justice into his own hands, whatever the price he might have to pay Being a civilized human being, however, he instead maneuvers himself into position as the person the murderer might be best advised next to kill in the attempt to cover up the dirty little secret that lies at the core of the plot .This is a terrific thriller Allingham wrote some splendid mysteries, but I ve come to the conclusion that her thrillers like this novel, Traitor s Purse and of course The Tiger in the Smoke show her at her best I think she probably achieved this through her deft ability to portray character I last read Death of a Ghost perhaps forty years ago, so obviously remembered very little of the plot, but I did recall the characters notably Belle, Max Fustian and Linda who I thought and still think is red hot an aesthetic conclusion with which Campion evidently agrees.There are also, to be honest, some fairly easy, almost cheap, bits of characterization going on household hanger on Donna Beatrice, an old model of Lafcadio s, pretentiously full, Blavatsky style, of the need to understand the Higher Consciousness and open one s aura to the mystic ways of the universe Donna Beatrice s greeting wassensational and Campion remembered with sudden satisfaction that her real name was Harriet Pickering Rosa Rosa, the empty headed yet ravishingly lovely model, who readily delivers herself of obscenities and the most remarkable gestures, whom Dacre met in Rome and whom he married in order to be able to bring home to the UK with him despite his supposed engagement to Linda Dacre, by the way, suggested that he, Linda and Rosa Rosa should get a house together and live there in a menage a trois Linda tells Campion she rejected this not on any moral grounds or even theoretical disinclination, but simply because the work Dacre had now started to produce waschocolate box than art no way would she live with an artist who d prostituted himself like this Allingham s social attitudes were way ahead of their era She could also be adolescently smutty at times A ramshackle cottage in the middle of nowhere where Dacre did some of his painting is evocatively called Spendpenny As for Campion himself, we re still, in vol 6 of the series, stuck with the common Golden Age trope of him being a member of the aristocracy in his case pseudonymous, to keep his true identity secret who s philanthropically working beneath himself by solving crimes and acting as a sort of universal uncle to those in distress He retains some of the deceptive vacuity that was Wimsey s stock in trade, but for the most part that s toned down a bit and, overall, he s become a plausible human being Even in the early novels Campion was a farreal and likeable person than caricatures like Wimsey by now he s become, perhaps because of the fallibility he displays here, a well rounded character.With the villain being revealed early on, the drive of the novel comes from the attempt by Oates and Campion especially the latter to tease out the motivation Allingham handles this very adroitly The book s title is a bit of a giveaway for part of it, but I think we d all have worked that bit out even without the clue Besides, that s hardly the point The crux of the novel is that Campion is confronted by an ingenious villain who s perhaps at least as intelligent as he is, and who holds most if not all of the cards The later stages of the novel, in which Campion is a piece of prey there for the taking as he flees through London streets, are absolutely nail biting.This is a thriller whose central dynamic is artificial then and now, Scotland Yard detectives don t much welcome, far less encourage, the contributions of amateurs in the murder cases they re attempting to solve A few months ago I was writing about the efforts of self styled psychic detectives, and the extent to which in general the cops privately hold these amateur meddlers in contempt was was very evident Of course, we re supposed to believe at face value that Lestrade, albeit reluctantly, welcomed the efforts of Holmes, Japp, albeit reluctantly, welcomed the efforts of Poirot, and so on Allingham chooses here to acknowledge the artificiality and, in effect, to tell us we simply have to accept it if we want to read on The Inspector never knew quite why he always invited the pale young man to accompany him on this sort of expedition in defiance of edict and etiquette alike, but the fact remained, and so did Mr Campion.I can t recall ever coming away from a Campion novel with the feeling that Allingtham had failed to deliver Death of a Ghost is no exception, and it may be one of her best This is a contribution toward Rich Westwood s Crimes of the Century feature on his Past Offences blog The year chosen for consideration in June 2015 is 1934.