The slashing of a valuable painting at the renowned Ivory Gallery in London, one of the most prestigious art galleries in the world – followed by the murder of the proprietor’s son-in-law, Robert, sets the stage for another finely tuned Allingham mystery. The proprietor’s mother, 90-year-old Gabrielle Ivory, holds the key to the web of intrigue and danger that permeates the gallery. Gabrielle Ivory was once a society beauty. But now, nearing 90, she’s largely disregarded by the younger members of the Ivory clan, who like to imagine Granny as rather a relic of a dead era. That’s a mistake, and it’s not their only one. A series of malicious attacks is threatening the Ivory Gallery in London. Robert Ivory and his high-strung wife, frantic to preserve the status-quo, want to chalk it all up to practical jokes gone wrong. But Gabrielle is not inclined to collude in this delusion. A brilliant standalone mystery from the author of the beloved Campion books. Golden Age Crime at its intriguing best.
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Margery Allingham was born in Ealing, London in 1904 to a family immersed in literature. Her first novel, Blackkerchief Dick, was published in 1923 when she was 19. Her first work of detective fiction was a serialized story published by the Daily Express in 1927. Entitled The White Cottage Mystery, it contained atypical themes for a woman writer of the era. Her breakthrough occurred in 1929 with the publication of The Crime at Black Dudley. This introduced Albert Campion, albeit originally as a minor character. He returned in Mystery Mile, thanks in part to pressure from her American publishers, much taken with the character. Campion proved so successful that Allingham made him the centrepiece of another 17 novels and over 20 short stories, continuing into the 1960s.From AudioFile:
A number of minor catastrophes occur at the Ivory family's art gallery. A priceless vase is broken. A special catalog is charred to ash. A painting on exhibition is slashed. When a body is found in a cupboard, the police are called. While Allingham is masterful at characterization, mood, and detail, she has chosen to add omniscient comments such as, "They went on their predestined ways, unaware." These do nothing to advance the story and, in fact, become intrusive. Nonetheless, Francis Matthews's performance will delight Allingham's fans. His rendering of Gabrielle Ivory, the 90-year- old matriarch who chastises the modern generation for its lack of moral fortitude, is elegant and graceful; his country constable is bumbling yet cagey. Matthews provides the necessary dramatic tension to an engaging, if predictable, plot. S.J.H. © AudioFile 2002, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine
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