Mr Campion’s Coven (Mr Campion #8) by Mike Ripley

‘Who do we know in Georgia, darling?’

Back in 1692, a group of villagers from Wicken-juxta-Mare signed the Billericay Covenant, set sail for Salem, Massachusetts on the Abigail. Some of them ended up, further south on Harkers Island, where some of their descendants still speak with an Essex accent. Rupert Campion, son of Albert, met Harvard anthropologist Kathryn Luger in 1963.  Professor Luger knows Albert Campion as well, so she suggests that her PhD student Mason Lowell Clay write to him, in 1971, for assistance. Mason Clay wants to learn more about the Billericay Covenanters, and is planning to travel to Essex.

While Albert Campion is happy to assist, he is a little preoccupied. A yacht belonging to veteran actor Dame Jocasta Upcott has been found beached near Wicken-juxta-Mare and while Dame Jocasta does not seem too concerned about Francis Jarrold, the missing captain, she insists that Albert Campion find her beloved dog, Robespierre.  Add the wonderfully named Magersfontein Lugg (‘His relationship with Mr Campion had baffled many an onlooker over the years’) to the mix and we have the ingredients of an engrossing and at times humorous mystery.

While Rupert Campion (son of Albert) finds Robespierre, Captain Francis Jarrold is found dead in the mud. Hmm. Mason Lowell Clay’s investigations take some interesting turns, and Albert Campion (with help) solves a mystery or two despite the suspicious locals of Wicken-juxta-Mare.

This is the eighth book in Mr Ripley’s continuation of Margery Allingham’s Albert Campion novels. I enjoyed this mystery and laughed out loud at both appropriate (and some inappropriate) moments. Albert Campion may be ageing, but he has not lost either his sense of humour or his keen observational skills.

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

Jennifer Cameron-Smith