Famous writer, Richard Eliot, has written numerous detective novels, featuring The Spider, a daring, clever criminal in earlier books, and an equally canny private investigator in later ones. But when he comes to life - first to burgle an odd neighbour, then to harass the Eliot family, and finally to attend his own birthday party - Inspector John Appleby is sent to investigate.
Born in Edinburgh in 1906, the son of the city's Director of Education, John Innes Mackintosh Stewart wrote a highly successful series of mystery stories under the pseudonym Michael Innes. Innes was educated at Oriel College, Oxford, where he was presented with the Matthew Arnold Memorial Prize and named a Bishop Frazer's scholar. After graduation he went to Vienna, to study Freudian psychoanalysis for a year and following his first book, an edition of Florio's translation of Montaigne, was offered a lectureship at the University of Leeds. In 1932 he married Margaret Hardwick, a doctor, and they subsequently had five children including Angus, also a novelist. The year 1936 saw Innes as Professor of English at the University of Adelaide, during which tenure he wrote his first mystery story, Death at the President's Lodging. With his second, Hamlet Revenge, Innes firmly established his reputation as a highly entertaining and cultivated writer. After the end of World War II, Innes returned to the UK and spent two years at Queen's University, Belfast where in 1949 he wrote the Journeying Boy, a novel notable for the richly comedic use of an Irish setting. He then settled down as a Reader in English Literature at Christ Church, Oxford, from which he retired in 1973. His most famous character is John Appleby, who inspired a penchant for donnish detective fiction that lasts to this day. Innes's other well-known character is Honeybath, the painter and rather reluctant detective, who first appeared in 1975 in The Mysterious Commission. The last novel, Appleby and the Ospreys, was published in 1986, some eight years before his death in 1994. 'A master - he constructs a plot that twists and turns like an electric eel: it gives you shock upon shock and you cannot let go.'
©2013 Michael Innes (P)2013 Audible Ltd
"Classic Mystery, Well Read"
Anyone who has read an Appleby mystery before knows what to expect - classic english country house type setting with clear distinctions between those upstairs and those downstairs. This is a classic one of those with, indeed, a house party in the house of a famous author who is possibly being wound up or possibly being driven towards a breakdown by a series of jokes and more sinister events. Appleby here is early on in his career and it is his sister who gets him involved just as the author's son is getting his university tutor and a psychologist entangled at the same time. The story, possibly because of the sheer length of this recording, loses it a bit towards the end and I had to go back and relisten to work out exactly what had happened. I find these mysteries seem to climax rather quickly compared to the length of the build up. Apart from that this is really good.
An intellectual puzzle of such density that you must listen to every word. Evocative descriptions of the buildings and countryside. A breadth of vocabulary in the narration and dialogue which is a delight.
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