Some very brief notes on Coroner’s Pidgin (1945).There are three ways in which one might consider Coroner’s Pidgin….

1.) As the second ‘war’ book – directly following, of course, Traitor’s Purse but written at a different stage of the war when, crucially, the outcome was clear. There is very little of the stirring patriotism of the former book. Rather there is weariness and uncertainty – weariness in Albert himself for instance.

2.) In connection to pre-war books such as Ghost, Dancers, Fashion. Again we have a weird extended ‘family’ dominated as in Dancers by the personality of one extraordinary person. What, Allingham seems to ask, has happened to an example of one of her families, both during and as a result of the War?

3.) As the first of an extraordinary trilogy of London books. We have had books which have made memorable use of London settings before and will have later, but in the trio of Coroners Pidgin, More Work for the Undertaker and Tiger in the Smoke it is arguable that Allingham’s writing about and fascination with London reaches its peak. This is really another unique feature of Allingham’s writing. Classic Golden Age British writing is often (lazily) presented as stereotypically rural – St Mary Mead – but here the setting is as urban as it could be.

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