First off, let me say that I was thrilled beyond thrilled when the Classics Circuit decided to have a Golden Age of Detective Fiction tour. Agatha Christie was a huge part of childhood; I spent many summers reading to our next door neighbor, the elderly Mrs. Jenkins, Agatha Christie novels. I went through a phase where I read nothing but Christie ( I think I was 11 or 12).
Of course, this post is not about Agatha Christie, it is about Margery Allingham’s novel Black Plumes. Sadly, I only read about one Christie book every year. I’ve come to the point we’re I can guess the culprit every stinking time with Christie. This is why Allingham was so fabulous for me to read right now. I experience the same suspense and wonder reading Black Plumes — my first, but most certainly not my last Allingham — as I did when reading Christie as a girl.
The plot is told from the point of view of Frances, a wealthy 20 year-old woman who is concerned about her relative Robert’s care of her father’s gallery: a painting has been slashed, important programs burned, and a priceless vase broken. Now Robert has the audacity to suggest she marry his assistant — the sneering and sneaky Henry Lucar. Things go down hill quickly from this point on, there are several murders and the perpetrator is thought to be within the household.
Any more information would spoil the entire tale, but let me tell you that I was guessing up until the very end. I suspected a half dozen people and was surprised to learn the identity of murderer.
Get thee to the library — I’m going tonight and it is no mystery that I’ll be coming home with a hefty stack of Allingham!