A couple of months ago I re-read Margery Allingham's great classic crime novel Tiger in the Smoke for the Cornflower Book Group. It was one of her last novels, written in the 1950s, and wonderfully evocative of post-war London. I had read it before, but I had never read this one, which could be described as its companion piece. Published in 1958, it is not a whodunnit but, like Tiger, a psychological thriller. Set, again, in London, the main action of the novel takes place over a single day. At the start, though, a bizarre and well-planned murder takes place in an alley behind a London theatre -- witnesses describe seeing an ancient one-decker bus backed in, with two old people sitting quietly in the front seat, and when it is gone, a violent shooting is found to have taken place, concealed by the presence of the coach. We know at once who the perpetrator is -- Gerry, a charming, ruthless con man, whose life, as we discover, has been littered with similar incidents. Gerry has one friend, Mrs Tassie, an elderly lady who, widowed and childless, has developed a deep love for him and wilfully blinds herself to any suspicions that he might be in any way connected with a series of murders that have been puzzling the police for several years. Although these are all very different in execution and have taken place in different parts of the country, Detective Charlie Luke has an idea there may be a connection, as each one is linked in some apparently minor way with the rather seedy district of London where Gerry's friend and patron lives and runs her eccentric museum. As the story proper begins, a young girl has arrived at the museum from the country -- she is a relative of Mrs Tassie, who has hopes that she may marry Gerry and help him to settle down. The action of the novel then moves between her day with Mrs Tassie, Gerry's trajectory through London, leaving a trail of well-planned destruction behind him, and the efforts of Charlie Luke and the private detective Albert Campion to solve the puzzles and home in on their prey. I enjoyed this enormously, and found the depiction of Gerry's complex, amoral, troubled character fascinating, as indeed is Mrs Tassie's sad unswerving devotion to the man she knows in her heart is not worth it. Beautifully observed -- a real classic indeed.