Mr Campion’s Séance by Mike Ripley

‘You’ve finished it?  The new book?’

Told over five parts, the novel starts in 1940 with Albert Campion meeting the famous author Evadne Childe at a police shooting range.  Miss Childe is seeking advice on firearms: not research for the detective novels she writes, but as preparation for self-defence when she moves to East Anglia to look after her ageing mother.

She and Albert Campion meet again when he delivers two temporary house guests (two Belgian soldier refugees) to her in East Anglia.  She advises him that she is using her married name these days:  Mrs Walker-Pyne.  Her husband, Edmund was killed in 1939 during a U-Boat raid, and while she hasn’t abandoned writing fiction, she’s set it to one side for the moment.   Albert Campion tells her that as they share a godmother, they are godsiblings.

In 1946, with the war over, Evadne Childe’s new detective novel ‘The Bottle Party Murders’ is successful.  It catches the attention of Superintendent Stanislaus Oates because it bears similarities to a recent unsolved murder at the Grafton Club in Soho.  The book was written before the murder: how can Evadne Childe have described the events before they occurred? 

It will take fifteen years to answer this question and will involve several different people and some quite intriguing situations.  This is a clever murder mystery, with some unexpected elements and the suspense builds towards the end.

This is the seventh novel in Mike Ripley’s continuation of Margery Allingham’s Albert Campion novels.  It isn’t necessary to have read other books in the series to enjoy this instalment, but Albert Campion is such an interesting character that I want to read them all. While I’ve only read two so far, the others are on my reading list.

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Severn House for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes. 

Jennifer Cameron-Smith