Mr. Campion’s Abdication
In 1970, Albert Campion has been invited to serve as a consultant to an Italian film producer, Donna Daniela-Petraglia, at Heronhoe Hall in Pontisbright in England. The film will be a short documentary about the search for what is called the “Abdication Treasure” left on the premises in 1936. At that time, the Prince of Wales, later known as King Edward VIII, was known to meet his lovers at this out-of-the-way mansion, and specifically his trysts with the twice-divorced Wallis Simpson, the woman he later married and for whom he abdicated the English throne. Campion’s son and daughter-in-law are to play the characters of the Prince of Wales and Mrs. Simpson. Precious Aird is the on-site archaeologist for this “dig.”
This story involves Albert in his younger days, and we see a different side of him here, a witty and perceptive friend of the Prince of Wales and a cynic regarding any actual hidden treasure. If that were the entire plot, we would be disappointed, but the Italian connection to this so-called “one-day documentary” is an intriguing screen for some skullduggery. Yes, a treasure lies within the estate, but the way the search unfolds is a mystery that becomes complicated with violence and mistrust. Campion asks his old friend, Magersfontein, to help, and the story becomes simultaneously more amusing and more dangerous. Mr. Campion’s Abdication is a fine historical mystery which is a mixture of lightness and intensity and ultimately satisfying reading.