One reviewer wrote, "Miss Allingham's strength lies in her power of characterization, in her striking talent for painting the social background against which she shows her characters, in her skill in the use of words whereby she paints so vividly the scenes she describes." Guardian.
The Crime at Black Dudley (1929) is the first book to feature Campion (and I always insist on starting at the beginning of a series). The setting is classic: a house party in a mysterious house in a remote English town and a lighthearted game that unexpectedly turns into murder. However, I found the plot and characters somewhat disappointing. Campion, at least in this book, lacks the charm of other "silly ass" detectives (and in fact, it is someone else who solves the murder). Yet Mary Jean DeMarr in In the Beginning: First Novels in Mystery Series believes that Campion's development as a character in later books "offers mystery readers a unique opportunity to consider what makes a mystery/adventure hero and what characteristics must be carried over from one novel to others in order to create the continuity necessar for a successful series... What inherent qualities does he have in his first appearance in Black Dudley and Mystery Mile that led Allingham to make him the focus of nearly a score of novels and a number of short stories?"
I definitely need to buy DeMarr's book, and she has convinced me to read more Allingham. My copy of The Crime at Black Dudley came from the Lexington library, so I am sure the rest will be readily accessible.