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A Change Of Heir (Inspector Appleby Mystery S.) [Paperback]

Michael Innes
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

23 Sep 2008 Inspector Appleby Mystery S.
George Gadberry, 'resting actor', packs his bags and heads for obscurity when the Tax Inspector beckons. Then he receives a mysterious invitation and a proposition that could lead to enormous riches. Wealthy imbiber, Nicholas Comberford, wants George to impersonate him in order to secure a place in the will of fabulously affluent Great-Aunt Prudence, who lives in a Cistercian monastery and won't allow a single drop of liquor in the place. Gadberry's luck seems to have changed - but at what cost?

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Product details

  • Paperback: 178 pages
  • Publisher: House of Stratus; New edition edition (23 Sep 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1842327275
  • ISBN-13: 978-1842327272
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 14.8 x 18.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 323,959 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

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.' - Times Literary Supplement.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a quick, entertaining page-turner 7 May 2009
I've read a few Innes novels over the years, mainly Appleby stories. I've found them to contain pre-war Patrician attitudes - snobbish, even - and they are littered with quotations that I suspect even most of the author's Oxford contemporaries would find difficult to identify. For all that, I find them highly readable and, more to the point, entertaining, which is surely the author's principal intention. This novel turned out to be no exception, although it is not an Appleby murdrer mystery. It is quite a simple shortish story which, at one time, could easily have been turned into a modest film or television play. It has a far-fetched plot of impersonation in an implausibly out-dated environment peopled with comic grotesques. At one point the author states that the reader will already have guessed the plot even if the principal character hasn't. Even so, I felt compelled to keep turning the pages until the very last one just to see how it turned out. I was not disappointed. This is not intended as a work of high art or philosophy. It is an entertainment and succeeds as such.
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Amazon.com: 3.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "How tedious is a guilty conscience!" 18 Mar 2004
By E. A. Lovitt - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
George Gadberry, an out-of-work actor whose chief claim to fame was a leading role in "The Rubbish Dump" is down to his last intact florin, and has to vacate his current lodgings unseen as he cannot pay his landlady the previous week's rent. Not only is he broke, but the Tax Inspector is beating at the door. Then his agent calls with a mysterious commission, and George meets a man who, once he removes his false beard, could be his identical twin.
As you may have already guessed from this book's title, George lets himself be persuaded into a major impersonation. Nicholas Comberford wants to return to the Riveria and fall back into the arms of his mistress, while George travels up to Bruton Abbey on the chilly Yorkshire dales and pretends to be him. Nicholas cheerfully admits to being a rogue and a sensualist, but he wants to secure a place in the will of his fabulously wealthy Great-Aunt Prudence. Unfortunately, his great-aunt is a strict teetotaler. Fortunately, she has a weak heart and isn't expected to last out the year.
George travels up to Bruton Abbey under the guise of the reformed prodigal coming home to comfort Great-Aunt Prudence in her precipitous decline toward the family burial vault. Nicholas has loaned him the memoirs of Great-Uncle Magnus to bone up on family history, and at first no one seems to suspect the changeling in their midst.
But George realizes that Nicholas has misled him on two minor items: Great-Aunt Prudence has no objection to alcohol; and the old woman is in ruddy good healthy and is expected to live for decades.
Then Miss Bostock, Great-Aunt Prudence's companion begins to blackmail George as the imposter that he is. Can anything else go wrong?
Well, yes. Great-Aunt Prudence attempts to fix her false heir's interest in one of the neighboring landowner's hearty twin daughters. Her butler attempts to play Miss Bostock's blackmailing game with George. Bats and owls flit nightly through the vast halls of the abbey, and a gigantic man-eating carp lurks beneath the ice of the ornamental pond. The local rector, who seemed to be settling into a malignant version of senile dementia, is revealed as a practitioner of the Black Arts. And then, to cap off all of his misfortunes, George falls in love.
Michael Innes has produced another amusing, but sharply-edged comedy-of-manners that had me laughing out loud when I wasn't commiserating with poor George. He seemed like a very decent sort of penurious actor whose brush with the Tax Inspector and then the rogue, Nicholas led him disastrously, almost fatally astray. I had to keep reading to find out if Innes's likeable, although somewhat weak-willed hero would wriggle out of Great-Aunt Prudence's matrimonial schemes, the blackmailing clutches of her staff, the lurking jaws of the carp, and last but not least, the dilemma of his false inheritance.
2.0 out of 5 stars NOT a detective story 6 May 2013
By Barbara Mcclatchey - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
When reading a book by Michael Innes, one expects some element of detection. In Change of Heir, the reader is the only detective, and there's not a whole lot of opportunity to mess up--the answer is pretty obvious. And the ending! Ever heard of Deus ex Machina? That's not exactly what this is, but it might as well be--it's a pretty trumped-up conclusion to get the author out of the corner he has painted himself into.
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