Philip (‘Pip’) Youngman Carter was married to Margery Allingham, one of the Queens of the Golden Age of English crime writing, for almost forty years. He collaborated on his wife’s early crime novels, completed Cargo of Eagles, the book she left unfinished on her death in 1966, and then wrote two continuation novels featuring her famous detective Albert Campion. He was an artist, a designer of book jackets (more than 2,000), a soldier, a journalist, a magazine editor, a travel writer and a wine writer. He was also the author of around fifty short stories, most of which were published in magazines and newspapers in the late 1950s.Shortly before the death of Margery Allingham in 1966, Youngman Carter began work compiling an anthology of his stories, including some written whilst on active service in the Western Desert during WWII, but the collection did not appear in his lifetime.
Now, thanks to extensive work by the Margery Allingham Society and editor Mike Ripley, Youngman Carter’s Tales on the Off-Beat finally appears in print, 46 years after the death of the author, containing 25 of the author’s stories of crimes, con-men, assassins, treasure-hunters and the downright supernatural.
The anthology, with an introduction by Barry Pike (chairman of the Margery Allingham Society), contains Youngman Carter’s famously uneasy tales The Evil Eye of Brother Polidor, Kane’s Doll and Grand Seigneur which all appeared in the cult magazine Argosy (UK) and several chosen from the legendary American publication Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. The majority of the stories have not been seen for almost sixty years but reveal a writer with a knowing and assured journalistic eye for outrageous characters, a sly sense of humour and a genuine gift for creating atmospheric settings, particularly in Peter the Blind, set mostly in wartime London. Reminiscent of Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected, Youngman Carter’s stories were genuinely “on the off-beat” – a description, and a title he himself suggested.
Said editor Mike Ripley: “Youngman Carter’s stories, sometimes sardonic and always willing to deflate the pompous, still have the power to amuse and surprise. They fall roughly into three categories: crime stories, war stories and tales with a supernatural twist and feature a motley collection of crooks, con-men, soldiers, spies, journalists, artists and dodgy art-dealers. (He was particularly good on dodgy art-dealers!). In his Introduction, Barry Pike describes them as ‘intelligent, erudite, fanciful and exuberant’ and I have no doubt they would have appealed to Margery Allingham’s most famous creation, Albert Campion.”
Tales on the Off-Beat is published in hardback, paperback and as an eBook by Ostara (www.ostarapublishing.co.uk) on 15th October 2015.