Somehow I've gotten onto a string of misogynistic women authors. Compared to this the last one, Christie's Blue Train, seems quite mild. At least its sexism is of a more paternal tone -- oh, you women are so silly and unable to control your feelings --rather than truly hateful. The women here are not just irrational, but also vicious, selfish, dishonest, and amoral. And this despite the fact that the male characters do all the murdering and most of the other crimes. When women commit their sordid little crimes it is at the behest of men, but that still makes them worse than men because they are stupider as well.
This book contains the most repulsive proposal I have read, to date: Will you marry me and give up to me your independence, the enthusiasm which you give your career, your time and your thought? ...In return, mind you (I consider it an obligation), I should assume full responsibility for you. I would pay your bills to any amount which my income might afford. I would make all the decisions which were not directly your province, although on the other hand I would like to feel I might discuss everything with you if I wanted to; but only because I wanted to, mind you; not as your right. ...You would be my care, my mate... my possession... It means the other half of my life to me, but the whole of yours.
This is totally serious. It is not meant as a satire. Also, it comes right after the guy has had a very public affair with a married women, and there hasn't been a big talk or reconciliation scene or anything of that nature. But I guess poor Val has low standards. After all, earlier in the story when she was admitting how upset she was about Alan's betrayal, she was told, "This is damned silly introspective rot. What you need, my girl, is a good cry or a nice rape."
And that's from her brother! The protagonist/detective/hero of the story! This is book ten in Campion's series. I really thought I had read an earlier installment and not hated it or him, but I sure did here. In fact, I found most of the characters pretty repellent. The only person I found sympathetic was Amanda, the young aircraft engineer. Well, and the kid Sinclair, but he only existed as a plot device and disappeared as soon as he had conveyed the crucial information.
Allingham's writing is decent and often clever. It's a pity her characters ruin it.