Available to download for the very first time, the first instalment of the fantastic Inspector Appleby series by celebrated crime writer Michael Innes.
Inspector Appleby is called to St Anthony's College, where the president has been murdered in his lodging. Scandal abounds when it becomes clear that the only people with any motive to murder him are the only people who had the opportunity - because the President's Lodging opens off Orchard Ground, which is locked at night, and only the Fellows of the College have keys.
Legendary character Inspector John Appleby of Scotland Yard inspired a lasting vogue for donnish detective fiction. Innes's detective novels are playfully highbrow and rich in allusions to English literature and to Renaissance art.
©1936 Michael Innes (P)2010 Audible Ltd
"It is quite the most accomplished first crime novel that I have read...all first-rate entertainment." (Cecil Day Lewis, Daily Telegraph)
Narrative makes the world go round.
A Whodunnit with a capital W - if you like (or like satires of) Brit academe, The author seemed to have fun writing this, the wonderful narrator has fun relating it, and if you give it some time to get into the world of the story, it can be a fun listen, even to contemporary ears.
I like that it was written in the Golden Age of detective fiction - the age of Sayers and Christie - and that it takes place at a University. The characters were well thought out, all the clues were there, but I found it challenging to figure out whodunnit.
I liked the detective.
Beautiful voice and phrasing, excellent characterizations
It wasn't that kind of story
Escapism at its best!
This English mystery novel pretends to be quiet and sedate, while unleashing a complicated puzzle of murder in a locked-up college full of people too smart for their own good. The author is obviously fond of all his characters, and the narrator has a different voice for all of them. There's even some Chestertonian wild chases across the countryside. What else can I say? Innes writes winners.
I read from every category but intelligent mysteries short on gore and long on interesting characters are my favourite.
The most convoluted runaround I have waded through in a long time. Yes, I love the classic British mystery but by the end, I was ready to give Mr. Innes a good sound smack. As I said though, the series gets better. I heartily recommend skipping this one.
Genre fiction, trashy to literary--mystery, action, sci fi, fantasy, and, yes, even romance. Also history. Listener reviews help a lot!
This is the first of Innes's Inspector John Appleby mysteries, the 1937 introduction of a character whose sleuthing continued through the mid-1980s (by which time he was Sir John Appleby).
This book, published in England as "Seven Suspects," is a mystery of the Golden Age Locked Door genre; circumstances dictate that the bizarre crime must have been committed by one (or more) of a limited group of suspects. Innes spends an inordinate amount of verbiage setting up the premise and describing the scene (a walled garden in a fictitious British university), and in introducing the suspects (academic dons who in the 1930s were already living in an outdated fantasy world-- "They teach outmoded subjects using exploded methods" may be the best line in the book).
Once the tedious setup is finally in place, the plot unfolds as a kind of French farce (minus any sex) of mistaken motives and inadvertent eavesdroppers. I could envision a stage set with doors and windows constantly being opened and closed as the foppish participants bumble about. Unfortunately, the dry and subtle British intellectual humor that is the hallmark of Innes's novels is less successful in this book than in some of his others, and in this rendition what humor exists is almost completely obscured by an uninspired reader who simply Does Not Get It.
In short, I found this story, prose style, and reader combined to produce a great soporific. I'm still waiting for the Perfect Reader and production of "Hamlet Revenge," the second (1938) and truly great Appleby novel.
The first novel by Michael Innes, set in an Oxbridge-type college. The characters, mostly college faculty, are very similar to one another. The plot is slow-moving and confused. I didn't care much about the victim or the cast of possible killers, and the ending is entirely unbelievable.
Fortunately, Innes became a better writer and devised much better plots. Skip this one.
This book did not appeal to me, although I really hoped it would. It surely is intelligently written. It is a golden age mystery favorite! It is set in the academic world, which I work in (as junior manager) and I just cannot resist any work that takes a humorously cynical view on it. It is also teeming with literary and psychological references. I thoroughly enjoyed the night time stalking about scene and giggled many times (up to chapter 10).
The heralded detective brought in from London did not bring it. Making inexcusable mistakes as leaving the safe unguarded, leaving the gates unguarded, being seduced by the fluent professors.
The role of the students? Still unclear to me, found them to be very annoying.
And leaving the murderer free to commit suicide as a form of justice amongst "gentlemen"... Not the wrap up I fancy.
Maybe the audiobook format let this book down. Though the narrator was very good and has a lovely proper English voice, there are too many things going on and paper would have the benefit of easily going back and reread and to skip skip skip skip ahead in those super annoying last chapters.
I listen to audio books before I go to sleep. This one put me to sleep rapidly. It was all talking heads. Almost nothing happens. There was almost no setting are description. The characters were flat. And there was not one single woman in the entire book.
The narrator was excellent. I only gave him four stars because he didn't have any women's voices to to do so I can't tell if he would be good at them.
Curious mispronunciations jarred.
The characters were stereotyped and I just couldn't engage with them. I have enjoyed other Michael Innes novels; perhaps because this was the first of the Inspector Appleby series he hadn't yet got into his stride. I couldn't finish it.
I just didn't engage with this novel. There wasn't a lot of action, just a lot of conversation, and sometimes it just went off in directions that didn't interest me. Maybe it would've been a better read than a listen but I guess I'll never know. The only part of the novel that did engage me was the last two chapters, which I will call the punchline of the joke. It was funny and ridiculous--a wry commentary on academia, but it made the rest of the novel seem like a boring, rambling prelude.
"More from this author, please"
Hats off to Audible for their enterprise in resurrecting one of the great figures from the 'Golden Age' of detective fiction. The jackets of his books were endorsed with the quotation 'the phantasmagoric Mr. Innes' which may explain why he was never a bestseller like many of his contemporaries. Although he may use the common plots of the genre (there aren't many, after all) his developments of them was utterly unlike those of any other mystery writer. And, of course, given his daytime job as a Professor of English Literature, the quality of the writing is far above the dull, off-the shelf prose of most current practitioners.
If you enjoy this book, I recommend (to you and Audible) 'Stop Press', 'From London Far', and 'Operation Pax'
As for the reader, he has a pleasant voice, clear diction and sensible pacing, and wisely does not attempt an upper-middle class 1930's voice. A 5 star production.
"more from this author, too"
I'm of the same opinion as listener John. Those 'Golden Age' detectiv fictions have so much to give and - honestly - they do it without leaving the landscape strewn with scattered corpses and spilled gust like some modern writers whose stile of writing isn't even above average.
'Death of a President's Lodging' is not for the hasty. It is to be savoured, reclining in a comfortable chair and sipping great tea. Like in the good old times. More please.
"A good old-fashioned, intelligent Whodunnit."
Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. A murder in academia is always intriguing and it doesn't get better than this. The story has all the right ingredients: a murder committed in a room from which no-one has left or entered; a bizarre set of objects scattered around the body; a list of suspects all with opportunity and motive...all good stuff. And couched in the most beautiful language, narrated excellently by Stephen Hogan. The erudition of the author and his wonderful gift for prose writing make this an even richer experience for the listener. Eleven out of ten.
"Lost the Plot (More than once)"
I believe that this was the first outing for this detective character. I can't say I was draw to him as he just appeared in the text en-route from the "Yard" to the scene travelling in Yellow Rolls Royce. The Met were obviously doing well in those days!. There was no back story to the character he was just there. A lot less over long descriptive text which didn't really add to the narrative and or a faster moving plot line would have been helpful. The plot line was good but it was masked by the verbose interaction between characters. At times I forgot what the plot point was and why the scene was taking place. Very confusing at times.
I obviously expected too much in a book from the golden age of crime fiction.
Any part of the storyline that brought the plot back into focus.
Disappointed; certainly won't be getting another audio book by this author without checking out a paper copy first.
Stephen Hogan gave a first class reading.
This was dreadful. Very pedantic, obsessed with detail rather than getting you interested in the characters. I hoped the conclusion would make it all worthwhile but it was even worse than I expected.
I am sure it is a classic, it has the makings of one. It lost me at the postman! I must say the characters in that section were the only ones I liked. It's a story within a tale within a drawn out work of fiction.I'm not at the end yet 20 mins left ... I hope it's worth it !
I've bought another, read by Philip Franks as I adore him. If he can't make this author engaging for me no one can.
I admire him for sticking with it! Had I read this book I'd have skipped to the end.
it could be made a little more lighthearted with Hugh Laurie as Appleby and S. Fry as Duff ...
I'm sticking with Allingham, Christie, Cripsin, and Marsh
"Disappointing and dull"
I've been working my way through a load of Agatha Christie's novels recently (again....) and enjoying each and every one. So I thought I'd try something different from one of the classics, and picked out Innes largely based on the great reviews here. But I was very disappointed in this one.
I found it plodding, tedious and insular. Soon I was mixing up the different characters (none of them stood out in any memorable way) and losing track of the plot (I think I may have dozed off while listening once or twice) and by half way through the second part none of it was making any sense anymore. I struggled to get to the end - and then wondered why I'd bothered. I won't be reading more of Innes' books. What I will be reading is more from Edmund Crispin. Check out Glimpses of the Moon. This was another classic I also tried and it was a delight from start to finish.
The first book from Audible that I gave up with. I thought this was going to be a good 'who dunnit' , but it was long winded, full of unnecessary detail, dull, and the plot took so long to develop that I lost interest about halfway through
I am an experienced reader, but found this book to be way too verbose. I really had no idea what was being said half the time!
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