What was Albert Campion up to in the Hotel Beauregard, Mentone? Posing as the king of a tinpot Balkan state looking for his lost crown. It was all too intriguing for Guffy Randall, so he joined in the treasure hunt … to the bitter end. Even when it got very nasty indeed. The impoverished Fitton family inhabit a run-down mill in a Suffolk village, and suspect their brother is heir to Averna, suddenly oil rich after an earthquake. The British government assign Albert Campion to find the true owners. The requisite proof of lineage involves an ancient riddle, stolen drum, long-lost bell, priceless crown, and a ruby necklace.
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First (actually, it turns out to be the second) of the Campion books I’ve read, and whilst good, this won’t necessarily put him up there with Alleyn and Rhoddenbarr.
A small portion of land has suddenly become very attractive and important to a number of parties, including the British Government, who charge Campion with sorting it out in their favour.
Throw in Campion’s friends, pretty young girls, rich businessmen and their cronies, rural English Villages, psycho doctors and a quest, and that pretty much covers it in a really short book. Some twists are heavily signposted, but little to dent the story.