Stop Press: The Spider Strikes (Inspector Appleby) Paperback – 23 Sep 2008
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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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Top customer reviews
Will there be a murder? Are all the strange happenings just someone's idea of a practical joke? Can Appleby prevent mayhem or is it too late? I found this an interesting and complex read and I find Michael Innes' books really keep a reader on their toes. There are literary and classical references galore and people speak in erudite and elliptical language. The clues are all there but you really have to keep your wits about you to try and identify who is the guilty party.
If you're willing to work hard at it there is entertainment to be had from this series and they are classics of the crime writer's art. The series can be read in any order and as standalone novels but many will prefer to read them in the order in which they were published - this is the fourth book in the series.
As ever, the plot was brilliantly constructed and it was worth reading for that alone.
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