At Seamnum Court, seat of the Duke of Horton, The Lord Chancellor of England is murdered at the climax of a private presentation of Hamlet, in which he plays Polonius. Inspector Appleby pursues some of the most famous names in the country, unearthing dreadful suspicion.
©2011 Michael Innes (P)2012 Audible Ltd
My taste in books seems to run along a space-crime continuum
Most lists that attempt to choose ???the 25 best mysteries of 20th century??? will include ???Hamlet Revenge,??? a tour de force of the British intellectual mystery thriller. There is much to relish here ??? an abundance (perhaps overabundance) of characters, baffling murders, spies hunting secret documents, psychological insights both spurious and penetrating, a theatrical insider???s view, a Shakespearean appreciation, a love story -- and I probably missed a few. There is plenty of dry British humor, but there is also the shadow of war. Published in 1937, the story never overtly brings up historical politics, but clearly evokes the sense of urgency and foreboding that must have gripped the people of Britain as hopes for peace evaporated and Europe girded for a terrible war. Today we take it for granted that ???the good guys??? ??? and that most certainly included the English ??? won WWII. Innes obviously didn???t know that outcome when he wrote this book, and the psychological aspect adds to the story???s fascination.
I respect Michael Innes???s novels and have enjoyed several of them, but think most of them too obviously try to show off the author???s prodigious intellect at the expense of the reader. ???Hamlet Revenge??? does *not* fall into that category. Yes, it requires concentration and attention and you probably (almost certainly) won???t pick up on every literary allusion and erudite play on words. But it???s an extremely human book, and rewards your efforts with a satisfying sense of having gotten to know some real (and admirable) people and of having experienced a time, place, and events of importance.
I'd been hoping to see this book on Audible for some time, and was both excited and nervous as I ???experienced??? the first couple of chapters. It is an amazingly complex and difficult book to narrate, so I was thrilled (and relieved) to discover that Matt Addis does a superb job. From the Lord Chancellor to the Scottish gardener, from the American philologist to the Hindu Brahmin, his accents come across as effortless and unforced. Even the passages from ???Hamlet??? are handled with elegance and a sense of atmosphere. An important performance. Kudos to all involved.
It's a mystery why Michael Innes has been lost to present-day readers. His books are erudite, funny, pleasingly-plotted (okay, with a few exceptions), and satisfying in execution. John Appleby is my favourite of the English detectives, too. He (and Judith, once he marries) wanders through a cool green England peopled with Dukes, littered with very good art, and sparkling with rough diamonds and bad hats. Hamlet, Revenge! is the very best of Innes. A country-house amateur production of Hamlet is enlivened by dark threats, the possibility of espionage, and a very nice young girl who has both wit and the heart of the playwright/producer. This is beautifully read, too. More Innes, please!
Mystery reader (especially series) and Austen lover
This is my first Michael Innis/Inspector Appleby book, and I enjoyed it thoroughly! A great story, good characters, wry humor and a classic detective story. Add the wonderful narration of Matt Addis and you have a simply lovely listening experience.
I will be looking for more Michael Innis books.
There were so many characters and such an involved plot that one needs to be able to "check back" to earlier pages to keep everything straight. Obviously not practical with an audio book.
Reminiscent of Agatha Christie and the other British "village mystery" wirters - with maybe a touch of the "Midsomer Murders" series.
Lovely accent. Overall an excellent narrator.
Still don't have the characters clear enough in my mind to eliminate one!
This book was my introduction to Mr. Innes. I will definitely read more of his books - the operative word here being, "read."
I bought the print version for one main reason: to give to my wife, who always figures out the whodunnits while I am still floundering amid the clues and red herrings. Let's see her sort THIS one out!
You won't be able to say that the clues are obscure or concealed. Inspector Appleby reviews the facts and summarizes the case frequently, just in case you might have missed something. There was one bit that I thought was downplayed a bit for all its significance, but since my wife is an RN she should probably pick up on it. We'll see.
Anyway, it's classic stuff, English manor house, motives, means, opportunities, spies, a very clever mystery writer guest, and an even more clever inspector. There's an anagram that's about as subtle as Rumred, and a little forensic stuff for good measure. High society and political bigwigs in antebellum (WWII) England round out the cast.
Some knowledge of Shakespeare's Hamlet will help, maybe just the Cliff Notes or Wikipedia version.
Great narration. My first Matt Addis, and I'm looking forward to many more.
The only downside to reading this book is, I feel a little like I did when I first read Ngaio Marsh and then discovered that she had written scores of like books! Innes wrote a lot of books too. So many great books, so few credits remain. Maybe Audible will let me renew early.
I was unable to finish listening to this story. It did not engage my interest. If a person is really into Hamlet and minutia associated with this play then they may enjoy this book The writing is laborious to follow. Very wordy almost as if the author was paid by the number words and convoluted & complex grammatical sentence that were used. So difficult to tease out the gist of the story and to follow it.
That's Elmore Leonard's phrase. The best part of this work is the narration. He handles a long list of characters (Think War and Peace.) with differing voices, accents and emotions, all done extremely well. However, this is a book in serious need of an editor. That would cut it by at least a third. It's a murder mystery (in the style of Ellery Queen, the locked room type stuff). But the murder doesn't happen until 2 hours 40 minutes into the book. Most of what precedes it is unnecessary. It doesn't advance the story. There are brutally banal conversations among the characters about phonetics and the difference between fiction and melodrama. It doesn't stop after the murder. You know what the difference is between cigarettes and chocolates? No you don't. Cigarettes are sold homosexually. Chocolates are sold heterosexually. The rest of the waste material is the author spouting off his opinions on British literature and history. He's not without knowledge. But who cares? Are you reading a mystery to find out how an Elizabethan stage is constructed? This is a guy who would make you sprint out the door at a cocktail party.
Not a writer, a writer wannabe, editor, lit maj, or pretend literary critic. Just an avid reader and now avid listener. I read at least one book a week and listen to an average of two per week. However, I am a snob and have yet to listen to my favorite novels preferring still to read some works.
Because I kept drifting off and thinking of other more pressing concerns. I listen to light audio books to shut my mind offf and relax, this book couldn't hold my attention with all the characters in and out and so poorly delineated by the weak narration.
Far too many tricks and red herrings. Woe until those who don't have an extensive knowledge of early British literature and Shakespeare.
Didn't care by the end of the last reveal. Too many rvelations about who did it.
Not to my knowledge, but the narrator was very good. Not his problem. He could do many characters with good nuance.
Not in my opinion.
This author made an effort to modernise a 20's or 30's who done it with the very slick educated British nobility sorts. Didn't show enough restraint with the red herrings. Fine knowledge of Hamlet and other British literature.
I was hoping for something like P.G. Wodehouse or Stella Gibbons. Sadly, it was just boring. I didn't finish it. I'm not sure I got past the first chapter--that's how stultifying it was.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.