Mon 27 Feb 2012
PETER CAMPION – Diamonds Worth a Death or Two. Arco, UK, hardcover, 1955. No US edition.
Peter Campion has two titles included in the Revised Crime Fiction IV, by Allen J. Hubin. The other one is Model for Murder, also published by Arco, and also in 1955. Whether British private eye Phillip Mayhew is in both books, I do not know, but (of course) he’s definitely in Diamonds Worth a Death or Two (else I wouldn’t have brought him up).
His partner in the PI agency he’s in is Harry Green, but we don’t get to meet him, primarily because his body is found floating in the Thames on page nine. Mayhew and Green didn’t especially get along, but even though the police urge Mayhew (strongly) to keep his nose out of their business, there are certain standards that a private eye has to maintain. (We’ve heard that before.)
Green was last seen in a notorious night club talking to another gent whom Mayhew soon also finds dead, but he doesn’t get any real traction on the case until he ties it in with a diamond necklace mysteriously stolen on a train somewhere between Point A and London. The word “mysteriously” is used advisedly, as the necklace is not on the train and the passengers are searched.
This is one of those detective novels in which the leading character does not tell the story himself, nor does he have an assistant to bounce ideas off of. He does occasionally tell people that he has some ideas that are working out, but it’s left to the reader to follow the clues on his (or her) own as they occur.
I didn’t do a very good job, I’m sorry to report, and I apologize for letting all of you down. It all makes sense in the end, but I was rather confused most of the way through. I did like the “gather all of the suspects in one room” aspect at the end, and I had no idea the killer was who he (or she) was. Nicely done.
If Mayhew never made another appearance, he made the most out of this one. Whether or not he gets the wealthy young woman from whom the necklace was stolen, I leave to you to discover on your own. I won’t reveal all. Never have, never will.