on 16 December 2001
Appleby's End is the name of a train station in Cold Comfort Farm territory (the local villages are Yatter, Sneak, Snarl, Drool, Boxer's Bottom, and Linger). Lots of rural inbreeding, pig rustling, and strange people. A quintessential Innes, and Appleby meets his future wife Judith Raven in this. Nice bit about floating down the river in a carriage, in a snowstorm, and huddling in a haystack. Fantastic events but a nice change from some of the previous bizarre fantasies. Back on track again at the end of the War. Interesting story too, but not really a murder mystery per se. The motive for the crimes is excellent. (Hints that Appleby is going to retire from the police and become a farmer -- indeed, next couple of books don't have him -- but Innes later changed his mind.)
on 27 April 2001
"A series of odd happenings, linked together in rather a complicated way by an obscure and rather literary thread, a booksy thread..." This relatively early Innes (1945) is very funny nonsense - it bears the same relation to the rest of crime fiction (or even to Hamlet, Revenge! and The Weight of the Evidence) as Gilbert and Sullivan does to Bizet or Gounod. For that is what the book is: comic opera, nothing more. So we have villages called Drool, Sneak, Snarl and Yatter; a ghastly family of eccentrics towered over by the long-dead intellects of literary relatives; we have rural passions, secret heirs, and illegitimate children (by legal marriage); we have an outbreak of witchcraft and sorcery, and, most strikingly, we have cows, dogs and pigs turning into marble statues. Very improbable, but very funny. Note that Appleby meets the sculptress Judith Raven, who, after an episode in a haystack, becomes his future wife. Note also that the central ideas of the story bear a striking resemblance to G.K. Chesterton's Tales of the Longbow.