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Author Focus:

Michael Innes (A pseudonym of Professor John Innes Mackintosh Stewart HFRSE DLitt)

Crime Fiction

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Michael Innes
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Titles to Look Out For:
[in ascending order from earliest to latest work published. Each listing includes later editions and printings]
1971. An Awkward Lie
1973. Appleby's Answer
1974. Appleby's Other Story
1975. The Appleby File

About the Author: Professor John Innes Mackintosh Stewart HFRSE DLitt was a Scottish novelist and academic. He is well known both for penning works of literary criticism and for contemporary novels published under his real name; he wrote crime fiction under the pseudonym of Michael Innes

On Amazon:
Innes, Michael. 'An Awkward Lie', published in 1973 in Great Britain in hardback with dustjacket, 192pp, no ISBN. Condition: Good, with some age spotting to the edges (particularly the top edge). Price: £4.75, not including post and packing
1972, BCA (Book Club Associates), hbk
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  • An Awkward Lie [top]
    First published in 1971 in Great Britain in hardback with dustjacket by Victor Gollancz
    Reprinted in 1972 in Great Britain in hardback with dustjacket in hardback with dustjacket by BCA (Book Club Associates), 192pp, no ISBN

About this book/storyline: Bobby (the great Sir John Appleby's son) is having an early morning round of golf on his own, hits his ball into a bunker, and sees the body lying there, shot in the head. Whilst he is wondering what to do, a girl arrives on the scene - a very attractive, and level-headed girl, who immediately impresses the susceptible Bobby. He goes back to the clubhouse to telephone for the police, but when he returns with Sergeant Howard, there's no girl, and no corpse. All that remains of his story is his ball, still in the bunker. "Mr Appleby," Sergeant Howard remarks, " you seem to be in rather an awkward lie."
What splendid fun Michael Innes has with this classic situation of the disappearing corpse! The police are at first inclined to regard Bobby's story as a youthful practical joke. But he has a clue, and in following it up, he wanders into a hilariously comic mystery.
He is led to a marvellously dotty school; and it doesn't take Bobby long to discover that the delicious girl who came and went so tantalisingly on the golf course is to be found here; or that there are bearded Russians lurking about; or that something odd is going on around the megalithic earthworks on the downs; or that even the small boys seem to know more about the situation than he does...

Innes, Michael. 'Appleby's Answer', first published in 1973 in Great Britain in hardback with dustjacket by BCA (Book Club Associates), 192pp, no ISBN. Condition: good, with some age spotting to the page edges (particularly the top edge). Price: £4.75, not including post and packing
1973, BCA (Book Club Associates), hbk
In stock, click image above to buy for £4.75, not including post and packing

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  • Appleby's Answer [top]
    First published in 1973 in Great Britain in hardback with dustjacket by Victor Gollancz
    Reprinted in 1973 in Great Britain in hardback with dustjacket by BCA (Book Club Associates), 192pp

About this book/storyline: In this novel, Michael Innes's central character, Miss Priscilla Pringle, is herself a well-known writer of detective stories (Poison at the Parsonage, Revenge at the Rectory, and even-regardless of T. S. Eliot- Murder in the Cathedral). And as her titles suggest, she has a fondness for crimes that are associated with the Church (her late father was an Archdeacon): so when she learns tha the last Rector of Long Canings and Gibber Porcorum died in mysterious circumstances, she is soon off to this remote corner of the West Country to make an enquiry or two. Who knows, there may be material for her next book here. Moreover, she has another and even deeper reason for visiting Long Canings. The novel has opened in a railway compartment where she received a quite embarrassing proposal from a very odd fellow-traveller who suggested a form of literary collaboration: he will pay her no less a sum than £500 for an ingenious murder plot. It is all too clear to Miss Pringle that he has in mind not a fictional, but an actual murder, and at first she declines the proposal firmly. However, now she's on her way to meet him again; and his address is the Old Rectory, Long Canings. The story she devises is certainly elaborate: a plan that ritualistically involves the four elements - but alas, the plot is thicker than Miss Pringle realises. So it's lucky for her that Sir John Appleby, some time commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, but now in uneasy retirement, happens to be visiting the neighbourhood. It's all most delicious, and builds up to a splendid denouement in which the principal performer is a highly obstreperous goat...

Innes, Michael. 'Appleby's Other Story', published in 1974 in Great Britain in hardback with dustjacket by BCA (Book Club Associates), 192pp, no ISBN. Price: £4.75, not including post and packing
1974, BCA (Book Club Associates), hbk
In stock, click image above to buy for £4.75, not including post and packing

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  • Appleby's Other Story [top]
    First published in 1974 in Great Britain in hardback with dustjacket by Victor Gollancz
    Reprinted in 1974 in Great Britain in hardback with dustjacket by BCA (Book Club Associates), 192pp, no ISBN

About this book/storyline: "Grove nods at grove, each alley has a brother..." Sir John Appleby, that greatest of detectives, is quoting poetry to his friend the Chief Constable, Colonel Pride, as they survey the magnificence of Elvedon Court from the Palladian bridge in the Park. And we are at the opening paragraph of another delicious Innes mystery. Sir John is of course rather given to quoting poetry - a surprising trait an ex-Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, or so Colonel Pride, a plain man himself, feels. But the quotation has a prophetic quality: though neither of them yet knows that inside the great house its owner, Maurice Tytherton, is lying murdered, the line of verse contains an unwitting clue to the solution. Tytherton was shot dead around eleven o'clock last night. And now, next morning, Pride is taking Appleby over to Elvedon in the hope of interesting him in the curious affair of some stolen pictures. Appleby is not responding with any eagerness: he wants to maintain his retired status. But murder is another matter. Especially with such a varied assortment of possible suspects: Tytherton's young wife, who is having an affair with an eminent surgeon, a house guest; his mistress, Cynthia Graves, whom only yesterday he found in bed with his ne'er-do-well nephew Archie; his son Mark, who has just returned from several years in Argentina, and without announcing his arrival in the vicinity; his secretary, Ramsden, who is almost too efficient to be true; and a couple more house guests - the shady art dealer, Egon Raffaello, and the puzzling Miss Kentwell, who claims to be a promoter of charities.
They all have secrets to hide, and speedily, but imperturbably, Appleby gets to the bottom of most of them. However, the solution of the murder remains obstinately a problem - until he hits upon the crucial clue.
"Yes," Appleby muses afterwards, "the entire architecture of the place favoured the deception...Grove nods to grove..."

Innes, Michael. 'The Other File', published in 1975 in Great Britain in hardback with dustjacket by BCA (Book Club Associates), 207pp, no ISBN. Condition: good - there's some wrinkling to some of the dustjacket edges and there is age spotting to the book edges (mostly the top). Price: £7.99, not including post and packing
1975, BCA (Book Club Associates), hbk
In stock, click image above to buy for £7.99, not including post and packing

Alternative online retailers to try:
Click here to access our prebuilt search for this title on Abebooks

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  • The Appleby File [top]
    First published in 1975 in Great Britain in hardback with dustjacket by Victor Gollancz
    Reprinted in BCA (Book Club Associates), 207pp, no ISBN

About this book/storyline: As he is the first to admit, Appleby certainly does attract crime. Wherever he goes, there's a mysterious robbery. A memorial service for a famous QC, a visit to a picture gallery, a visit to his wife's Aunt Jessica, a car breakdown on a snow-bound road, a trout-fishing invitation to Scotland: on every occasion, crime is lurking. And his holiday s are particularly beset: an Italian hill town, a villa on a Cornish headland, a café in Lausanne, the Piazza San Marco in Venice - in all of them, crime is just round the corner. All of which adds up to a brilliant collection of Michael Innes short stories about the varied adventures of his great detective, Sir John Appleby, Commissioner of Metropolitan Police (and, later, retired). Appleby has to cope with many diabolically ingenious modes of crime: a faked poltergeist; an exploding antique; a balloon to remove a weapon; an arrow to obliterate a trail. Many of the clues that lead to solutions are equally remarkable: a shubunkin in a pocket; the over-painting of a portrait; photocopies that have stuck together; a broken wine-glass; a coat worn inside-out; a London taxi-cab on the Simplon Pass. And the plots involve elaborate double bluffs: suicides designed to look like murders; X disguised as Y disguised as X; and in the Memorial Service, the tangle of impersonation develops into a triple, or is it a quadruple? -bluff. Here then, is Michael Innes in delightfully relaxed mood and on top form

 



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