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The New Sonia Wayward [Hardcover]

Michael. Innes
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Victor Gollancz; 1st Edition edition (1960)
  • ASIN: B000HFKEU4
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,886,600 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Perfect Inverted Novel 23 Feb 2001
By A Customer
This is how the inverted novel ought to be written - no unbelievable sexual psychopaths in dingy backgrounds here; instead, we have a scathing satire on the literary world (and word). The writing is zestful, the dialogue excellent, the complications shocking and original, and the ending masterly. There are only two points which need a leap of faith before all else follows naturally: firstly, that Colonel Petticate would throw his wife's body overboard; and that his servants just happen (by the coincidence which only occurs in Innes, Edmund Crispin and Gladys Mitchell) to be professional blackmailers, who promptly set about sucking the Colonel dry - until he decides to do something about them... Amazing stuff. Another author who can be recommended is Francis Iles, pseud. of Anthony Berkeley, who created the psychological crime novel - the first inverted story was written by R. Austin Freeman.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars classic innes 17 Jun 2011
amazon is wrong. this book is not part of the inspector appleby series. appleby does not appear at all.
my paperback copy, published in 1960, cost 25p [or 3 shillings six pence]
this is not innes writing at his best, but it is witty and entirely of the period
a good read and well paced, perfect for a train journey
readers of contemporary crime fiction will be shocked at the vocabulary, and the lack of factual and grammatical errors, not to mention the felicity of the prose
even in 1960 the england portrayed here had ceased to exist, except in imagination
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Highly literate farce 10 July 2003
By A Customer - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Sonia Wayward is the author of trashy but hugely successful novels. She drops dead on a small boat piloted by her buffoonish husband, Col. Ffolliot Petticate, who has become accustomed to the very comfortable life Sonia's royalties have made possible. So he tips the old girl's corpse overboard, returns to shore, keeps her death a secret, and sits down at the typewriter to crank out "the new Sonia Wayward". Many complications ensue in this wildly improbable farce which is also a very successful suspense novel. Imagine John Cleese playing Petticate and you'll get the general tone. Michael Innes was the pseudonym of Prof. J.I.M. Stewart (d. 1994), who excelled both as a scholar and a popular novelist.
5.0 out of 5 stars Also titled "The Case of Sonia Wayward" 6 May 2007
By E. A. Lovitt - Published on
Colonel Ffolliot Petticate's wife, the romance novelist Sonia Wayward, dies of a heart attack while sailing with her husband in the English Channel. They're the only two aboard the yacht and as the good Colonel puts it, "here is a facer or a rum go." The protagonist's name is a good indicator that he would say something like this upon the death of his wife. His upper lip is so stiff it probably clacks against his dentures.

Colonel Petticate gives his wife a rather brusque heave-ho over the side of his yacht after a few words remembered from the Book of Common Prayer. Then he starts thinking about his financial situation, now that his sole source of income is sinking to the bottom of the English Channel.

Writing romances can't be that difficult. The good Colonel decides to refrain from reporting his wife's death and finish her current novel himself.

Oh, dear. I know from reading almost all of Michael Innes's novels that even a minor peccadillo like failing to report a death, or assuming someone else's identity will be ingeniously and horribly punished. Colonel Petticate begins to get into metaphorically deep water as soon as he comes ashore, wifeless, and visits Sonia's publisher. His predicament worsens on the train home, and again when he is ensconced in his manor house and least expecting more problems--this time from his butler, housekeeper, and prying neighbors.

Is this a case of the guilty fleeing when no man pursueth? Must Petticate meekly submit to innuendo, blackmail, and a stretch in Her Majesty's prisons for nothing more than burying his wife at sea and writing a book under a pseudonym?

Michael Innes has produced another urbane, but sharp-edged comedy-of-manners that had me commiserating with the poor Colonel. He seemed like a pompous, though basically decent sort whose decision not to report his wife's death ultimately leads him other criminal activities, including attempted murder.

"The New Sonia Wayward" (1960) is one of a handful of this author's non-series mysteries, similar in plot to "A Change of Heir" (1966). If you enjoy Michael Innes's (J.I.M. Stewart's) Appleby detective novels, you will definitely want to read this ironic comedy of errors.
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