Friday Forgotten: Look to the Lady by Margery Allingham

Look to the Lady by Margery Allingham, first published in January 1931, in the United Kingdom by Jarrolds Publishing, London, and in the United States by Doubleday, Doran, New York, as The Gyrth Chalice Mystery. It is the third novel featuring Albert Campion, accompanied once more by his butler/valet/bodyguard Magersfontein Lugg. This copy: Felony & Mayhem Press 2006 trade paper.

The Plot:
Val Gyrth, heir to the Gyrth family and their traditional vocation of guarding the famous Gyrth Chalice, is homeless and wandering the streets. After a mysterious chain of events, he is plucked out of danger by Albert Campion, who explains that a conspiracy of art collectors and criminals hopes to steal the treasure his family is charged with protecting.

Returning Gyrth to his family in the village of Sanctuary in Suffolk, Campion is shocked when Val’s aunt Di, a bohemian who upset the family by being photographed with the chalice, is found lying dead in a forest clearing, apparently frightened to death.

Val’s 25th birthday, at which a great secret is to be revealed to him, is fast approaching.

My Take:
While the plot feels a little “old fashioned” it must be remembered this is a golden age mystery, and Campion is very much in that mold here. I’d read most of the Campion mysteries, but had skipped this one, so it was new to me. I’ve been of the opinion that the Campion books improve as the series progresses, and nothing in this one disabuses me of that thinking. A solid entry which will be enjoyed by Allingham and Campion fans but not quite the top of the heap.

About Rick Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
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12 Responses to Friday Forgotten: Look to the Lady by Margery Allingham

  1. realthog says:

    That’s about how I remember it: lots of fun, the best to date, but the really good stuff, where Allingham flexed her wings and explored all that she could do, was yet to come.

  2. Todd Mason says:

    Thanks for the qualified warning…I’ve yet to read any of Allingham, while being aware of her work and the adaptations of it…a few of my favorite series took a few volumes to fully find their groove, and we hope no one doesn’t read, say, Marcia Muller’s brilliant TROPHIES AND DEAD THINGS because EDWIN OF THE IRON SHOES is just pretty good.

  3. Jeff Meyerson says:

    Meh. I was never much of an Allingham fan, especially of these early ones.

  4. I’m with Jeff. I’ve read a half dozen of Margery Allingham’s mysteries and none of them wowed me. I agree with you that the later books are better than the early books.

  5. tracybham says:

    Very nice review. I am a big fan of Margery Allingham and I think I have read all of the books, but have only re-read the later books since I have been blogging (well maybe the middle books). The last one I read was TRAITOR’S PURSE, and I can’t decide whether to jump ahead and read THE TIGER IN THE SMOKE or read the two before that. Eventually I will go back to this one, but I don’t like the early books as well as later ones either.

  6. Jerry House says:

    In the beginning he was a rogue, adopting the Campion name to hide the fact that he was a member of the Royal family. The early Campions remind me of her first book BLACKKERCHIEF DICK, a standalone written (I believe) when she was 17 and published when she was nineteen. The Campion novels went through distinct phases, much as the Ellery Queen novels did.

    I’ve read all the Campion books by Allingham (though none by either Youngman or Ripley) and am a big fan.

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