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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
And Campion has to find the lost Pontisbright heir who is the rightful owner before the "other parties" manage to find it first. At stake, a natural harbour on the Adriatic with its own supply of oil. Campion has to solve the riddle of the Pontisbright oak, evade capture, and find the missing papers that will allow Averna to stay in British hands. Along the way, he has to solve the mystery of the fear sign carved into the town walls.
Campion, for those of you who don't know him, is a spy in the line of Lord Peter Wimsey-- seemingly effete and ineffective, his demeanor hides deadly incision and a sharp wit. The Fear Sign is a memorable addition to his canon of books.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Travelling through France, Guffy Randall is surprised to find his old friend Campion and several of their cohorts masquerading as minor nobility. Quickly sucked into the plot, Guffy discovers that Campion is seeking various pieces of evidence that would prove that a tiny piece of very valuable coastline really belongs to England. Hardly have they begun when they discover that the real answer to the mystery is closer to home, at Pontisbright in West Sussex. Off the crew goes to rescue the evidence before it falls into the hands of their devious opponent Brett Savanake.
"The Fear Sign" combines all the key elements that that Margery Allingham uses to create her classic British adventure stories starring our universal uncle, Albert Campion. Aside from Campion's company of young British upper-class, the novel also stars Amanda, Mary and Hal Fitton (plus Aunt Hatt), who are the possible (and possible illegitimate) Pontisbright heirs, a supporting cast of appropriately quirky villages and a complete host of villains.
In short order Guffy is in love with Mary, Campion has found a partner in Amanda and even Lugg has a new buddy in Scatty Williams. When Amanda shows Campion an old verse carved into a hidden tree bole the chase is on.
"If Pontisbright would crowned be, three strange happenings must he see. The diamond must be rent in twain before he wear his crown again. Thrice must the mighty bell be tolled before he shall the scepter hold, and ere he to his birthright come stricken must be Malplaquet drum."
With this clue in hand Campion sets off to save the kingdom and reinstate the Fittons to their title, followed close at hand by Brett Savanake. Then, no soon do they start their quest, but Campion disappears, leaving Guffy and the rest to proceed on their own.
Before the mystery is solved readers will find themselves participating in a failed museum theft, listening to the world's first hi-fi system, and invited to a conjuration of the devil. As is often the case, Allingham provides a continuous series of distractions to bemuse the reader, culminating in the classic chase and confrontation between the forces of good and evil.
While this style of plot is an Allingham regular, she once again manages to flesh it out with enough novelty, fascinating characters and rip-roaring action to keep the reader fascinated. Like all Campion stories it never fails to entice and delight.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Partially narrated by the brave but clueless Guffy Randall, this mystery has Albert Campion searching for the lost regalia of the tiny kingdom of Averna. Our serial detective meets Amanda, his future wife in this story. He'll have to wait six years, though, to marry his 'rum little grig.'

I have to ask myself, would I marry someone who called me a 'rum little grig,' right after I had taken a couple of bullets for him?

Okay, if it were Campion, yes.

At the novel's beginning, we find Allingham's unassuming hero wandering about Europe, masquerading as the Hereditary Paladin of Averna, a miniscule Balkan state where oil has just been discovered. He 'intercepts' (Lugg steals) a message indicating that the real heir to Averna lives quietly in Suffolk, and that's where the treasure is to be found. So Campion and his 'court' head to the Pontisbright estate in rural England to see if they can discover the crown jewels of Averna and various important documents before the bad guys beat them to it.

"Sweet Danger" is more thriller than mystery. In order to find the hidden treasure, Campion must decipher three clues in a mysterious poem: "If Pontisbright would crowned be,/ Three strange happenings must he see,/ The diamond must be rent in twain/ Before he wear his crown again./ Thrice must the mighty bell be toll'd/ Before he shall the scepter hold,/ And ere he to his birthright come/ Stricken must be Malplaquet drum."

Meanwhile, the countryside is chock-a-block with roving bands of villains, who break into the true heir's dwelling at will. Amanda can hardly keep her mill in working order without stumbling over yet another bad guy who is searching for the treasure. To make life even more interesting, someone in the area is practicing a gruesome brand of black magic.

The author keeps us on the edges of our seats, especially after an attempt is made to shanghai our Albert to South America, by making him an offer he can't refuse. The book's thrilling climax involves black magic, the tolling of an ancient bell, hidden treasure, and a fight-to-the-death between the false heir of Averna (who refers to himself as everybody's universal uncle and deputy adventurer) and his truly evil opponent.

Here is a complete list of the Campion novels that Allingham wrote ("Cargo of Eagles" was completed by her husband after her death in 1966). There are also short story collections and Campion novels that were written by her husband, Youngman Carter, which I didn't include in this list.

1. The Black Dudley Murder aka The Crime at Black Dudley (1929)
2. Mystery Mile (1930)
3. Look to the Lady aka The Gyrth Chalice Mystery (1931)
4. Police at the Funeral (1931)
5. Sweet Danger aka Kingdom of Death aka The Fear Sign (1933)
6. Death of a Ghost (1934)
7. Flowers for the Judge (1936)
8. The Case of the Late Pig (1937)
9. Dancers in Mourning aka Who Killed Chloe? (1937)
10. The Fashion in Shrouds (1938)
11. Traitor's Purse aka The Sabotage Murder Mystery (1941)
12. Pearls before Swine (1945)
13. More Work for the Undertaker (1948)
14. The Tiger in the Smoke (1952)
15. Estate of the Beckoning Lady (1955)
16. Tether's End (1958)
17. The China Governess (1963)
18. The Mind Readers (1965)
19. Cargo of Eagles (1968)
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on April 4, 2001
Margery Allingham's Fear Sign appears complete and unabridged, paired with Francis Matthews' compelling and dramatic voice which brings to life the Albert Campion mystery of a cursed village and a murder. Fans of Sherlock Holmes will appreciate both the problem-solving methods and the tough of comedy, brought to life by British reader Matthews.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 24, 2005
This book is assuredly a period piece from about 1930, and the plot is definitely far-fetched for a modern reader - but I loved it. Albert Campion is at his deceptively foolish best, and he is matched - in more ways than one - by Amanda Fitton, an intelligent and engaging young lady engineer. The phrase "light-hearted adventure" sums up the book fairly well.

So what is this plot? There's a small but potentially important territory in the Balkans that should belong to the Earl of Pontisbright - the trouble is that the last Earl apparently died decades ago without leaving an heir. Campion gets his mates to help him sort things out, and prove that Amanda's brother is the rightful Earl.

' "Look here", said Guffy, "what exactly are we looking for?"...

Campion apologised "I'm sorry ... I ought to have explained this before. There's three things without which the Powers-That-Be don't consider they could possibly get a favourable decision at the Court of The Hague. The first - it's rather like a fairy story isn't it - is the crown which was made for Giles Pontisbright in the reign of Henry Fourth..." '

So Campion tries to find a crown, and solve two other puzzles, and fend off Brett Savanake, who is a rather nasty but impressive millionaire industrialist who wants the territory for himself.

The scene where Campion first meets Amanda is a delight, and the book is filled with lots of really good minor characters such as "Honesty" Bull the local publican. There are plenty of twists and turns in the plot.

If you like mysteries from this era, give it a try. If you want to tackle the Albert Campion series, this is a good place to start.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on November 16, 2000
The Fear Sign, by Margery Allingham, is a very funny book, in a twee British sort of way, but does not succeed as effectively as some of her others in the area of mystery in the novel itself. There are a few suspenseful moments, but very few, and the there is really no mystery to much of the story. The bad guys are the bad guys and the good guys are the good guys and except for possibly one incidence of cross dressing, nothing that is revealed will be a surprise to the reader. I do think the author did not intend any surprises, merely a plot to hang her crazy characters upon. Having said that, if you already love Campion and his friends, you will love this book. For those looking for a myster, it could prove a dissappointment.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 8, 2004
This book is one of the most madcap and dangerous Campion adventures. In it Campion and three of his friends as well as the irrerepressible Lugg are on the hunt for treasure in a tiny village called Pontisbright. They are all thrown in with a perfectly delightful local family (descendents of the manor people in this tiny village). Campion, his companions and the local family all band together to solve an ancient treasure hunt complete with riddles and lots of red herrings. Our intrepid hero, Campion actually meets a young girl who is his match in every way, and you can bet she has his measure from the get-go. This is a wonderfully written story, that has lots of surprises mixed in with madness, nastiness and murder. Read it and have a ball.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on May 6, 2014
No idea what other reviewers were complaining about. Formal writing? Nonsense. The book is wonderfully written. Very easy reading, highly entertaining and elegantly presented.

As a period piece, I can't find anything I would fault. Well, libraries on demonology were probably not that common, even in the Suffolk countryside, but certainly there was an avid interest in collecting arcane lore (actual or spun from moonbeams and strong wine) during the 1800s. I imagine Margery Allingham was thinking along those lines. It's a very minor part of the tale, an aside in a plot device for tying up loose ends, so I don't consider it a spoiler.

As a detective story, there is an obvious parallel Arthur Conan Doyle story, though not nearly as sophisticated as this. Plenty of older stories yet exist of riddles hiding treasures. This is in no way a rehash of well-trodden ground, though. This story is original and ingenious. It has become an over-used plot device in more recent times, but you can't fault an author for the future use of a story idea.

Characterizations - the characters are all vividly described, never veering off-character. The only issue I have is that the characters of Campion and Amanda are the only ones of depth. The others exist to prod the story forward. But, when you examine most novels, that is true. Very few stories have complex characterization outside the main one or two people as it is too hard to follow otherwise. Colour and texture, rather than detail, for everything around the main subject.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2003
.
Margery Allingham introduces her subtle regally-related sleuth to darkest pre-war East Anglia, with a plot key that revolves around balkan territorial rights....
Stunningly relevant again today, and the 'love interest' is a remarkably strong character.
Campion excels in misdirection with his seeming inanity, and brings the plot home with a splash.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 30, 2014
While I must admit that I was inclined throughout to score 4, the ending brought the 5.
This is a charming story, set in the early 20th century, the time during which the author practiced her writing.
I've always enjoyed books from that period and before. I love the beautiful descriptions of surroundings, effectively providing pictures that today we gain from photography. I also enjoy the opportunities for increasing vocabulary; books from those times were designed to require that the reader look up some words, whereas modern writing utilizes everyday language with which the reader is readily familiar.
The story is fun and far-fetched, related to acquisition of a small eastern European principality. There are those who illicitly seek ownership, as well as the true heirs, who seek restoration of the family titles, without knowledge of the impetus behind the motives of the former: ownership of oil reserves upon the distant family lands. The rightful heirs seek merely the titles illicitly withdrawn, and local recognition of the same.
The zany actions taken by both sides are thoroughly entertaining; the ruthless actions of the illicit would-be owners are frightful and spell-binding.
In all, the story is a good read, particularly as it progresses; I found the earlier pages a trifling dragged, which is why I had considered the 4 score before finishing.
And, as is normal for texts from that era, the book is appropriate for all readers within the family.

PS. Be sure to have your dictionary set to "English UK", as you will find words that do not make sense contextually under American definition, yet are perfect (& occasionally hilarious!) by UK definition.
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