Margery Allingham’s beloved sleuth, Albert Campion, returns in Ripley’s Mr. Campion’s Fox.

Why should more readers seek Allingham out?

Because she was a damn good storyteller, and, unlike the other fictional detectives of the golden age of English mysteries, her Albert Campion was allowed to age and mature as time went on. It was a risky strategy, but she pulled it off, I think. The 60- year-old Campion of her last few books is not up to the running-and-shooting antics of his adventures of the 1930s, but he is just as sharp and, of course, more wise in the ways of the world without being too cynical.

How does your work as an archeologist inform your writing and vice versa?

Archeology is terrific for imposing discipline on describing what you find and what you see, but is far from being a cold, analytic science. It is, after all, dealing with real people and past lives, and working out what happened (and why) 2000 years ago requires the use of one’s imagination. I am sure that has rubbed off on my writing. I was a mystery writer before I became an archeologist, and so it seemed perfectly natural to me to give the names of fictional detectives to every anonymous skeleton I uncovered. My first was called Inspector Morse (a male who died somewhere around 1350) because I found him the week my friend Colin Dexter published the last Inspector Morse novel. For a while, I was rather proud that I could boast I was one of the few mystery writers who really did find bodies on a regular basis!

How did you approach writing your own Campion?

Carefully! Writing Mr. Campion’s Fox was quite scary as I really was flying solo—but then with characters as good as Campion, Lady Amanda, Lugg and Rupert and Perdita (the junior branch of the family), I was confident I could make a fist of it, as long as I kept faith in those characters. I chose London’s Soho and the Suffolk coast for the setting, as both places were beloved by Margery Allingham. The year is 1969, and Campion is supposedly retired from his life of adventuring—but we all know he can’t resist a good mystery. I am determined to stretch out 1969 for as long as possible, as the 1970s was a difficult decade in Britain, rather dour and somehow angry in comparison to the 1960s. I think the industrial disputes, political infighting, economic problems, and punk music of the ’70s would have depressed Mr. Campion, who of course would be in his 70s himself.

What was hardest about the writing?

Not having anyone else to blame this time.