The Daffodil Affair

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 24 Jan 2018

Member Reviews

This book will be a nice read for fans of Detective stories and historical genre. The language and style of prose is a bit dense but if you can wade through it this is whimsical story.
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This is the 8th book in the series and I've not read any of the others but I think this can still be read standalone, although there are some wee bits that I feel like I missed out on. I do love a god mystery, but this didn't hit all the marks. Just okay I think.
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A bit of a far fetched tale. A horse goes missing - this horse is a bit different, good at numbers!

At the same time two young girls go missing, presumably kidnapped, probably human trafficking and the best part is yet to come, during the Blitz a house in Bloomsbury actually goes missing.

Now to put the three strands together - they are connected though not obviously so is the work of our Inspector and his side kick.

This is a quirky read, lots of literary references splattered throughout the book, all adding a piquancy to the read. It is a detective story with a lot of suspense. I like the references to the author himself in the book all adding great interest. Also very descriptive.
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Sorry,this just didn't work for me,the story is just completely over the top,...There are eccentric ladies,disappearing young girls,a plot that was all over the place but frankly nothing made any sense...
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In The Daffodil Affair, Inspector John Appleby and his colleague Hudspith are investigating three separate mysteries, none of which are the sort of thing you would expect two Scotland Yard detectives to become involved in. First, there is the theft of Daffodil, an extraordinary horse who seems able to count and to read minds. Next, there’s the disappearance of Lucy Rideout, a vulnerable young girl who appears to have been lured away from home by promises of a trip to the island of Capri. Finally, and strangest of all, an entire house has vanished from a street in London – a house which is said to have been haunted.

These three strange occurrences may seem at first to be unconnected, but links soon start to emerge and an adventure begins which sends Appleby and Hudspith on a voyage to South America in the company of the sinister Mr Wine. All sorts of paranormal phenomena are incorporated into the story, including telepathy, seances, witchcraft, hauntings and possession by demons. Some of the situations in which our detectives find themselves are quite surreal and implausible, but there are darker undertones too, which is where you can see the influence of the time period in which the book was written (during the Second World War). I think Mr Wine’s schemes and actions would have been frighteningly relevant to readers in the 1940s.

This is an entertaining novel, but I found it too bizarre to be truly enjoyable and I wouldn't recommend it as a first introduction to Innes. My favourites are Lament for a Maker and Hamlet, Revenge!
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This is the 8th Inspector Appleby book and the 3rd one I’ve read. Each one seems very different. This one is pure escapism and I think Michael Innes must have enjoyed himself immensely whilst writing it. It’s full of literary allusions and quotations and has a completely unrealistic plot. I think his writing is an acquired taste with long, meandering sentences, and formal language, including many unfamiliar words to me that I wasn’t sure of their meaning.

But I enjoyed reading it, once I’d come to terms with Innes’ style –  and the crazy plot. I enjoyed spotting many of the literary references, although I probably missed as many as I recognised. There are allusions to Wordsworth’s poem Daffodils, to Moby Dick, Ulysses, Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Shelley, Dr Johnson, Australian Aboriginal mythology, Browning, Yeats and Shakespeare amongst others. And in the South American jungle with its alligator–infested rivers, their ‘plop’,’plop’ as they disposed of Mr Wine’s victims reminded me of the crocodile in Peter Pan. The characters’ unlikely names, such as Mr Wine – Mrs Nurse, a high-class medium, seemingly nice, honest and capable, the enigmatic Miss Mood, with her ethereal, gibberish talk, husky and glamorous and Mr Beaglehole, Mr Wine’s secretary, whose name is a corrupt form of Bogle Hole, Scots for the lair of the demon, who lures his victims in, all contribute to this allegorical tale.

I particularly like his thoughts about detective stories, referring to them as stories that take one out of oneself, and as Hudspith  tells Appleby they are in ‘a sort of hodge-podge of fantasy and harumscarum adventure that isn’t a proper detective story at all. We might be by Michael Innes.’ ‘Innes? I’ve never heard of him.’ Appleby spoke with decided exasperation.’

Throughout the book Innes drops in his thoughts on a variety of topics including philosophy, the nature of evil, witchcraft, paranormal manifestations,  telepathy, superstition versus scientific inquiry, and multiple personalities. The arch-villain, Mr Wine, is a madman attempting to conquer the world with his physic circus of mediums through superstition and the supernatural.

I wasn’t at all sure where this book was taking me. It’s more a book of suspense than a detective story. There is nothing straight forward about it; it’s richly descriptive and surreal as it proceeds from one absurd situation to the next, but with serious undertones. It predicts that under such a madman as Mr Wine weird fantasies would spread, and sub-rational deceits and mumbo-jumbo would put power in the hands of whoever had control of a vast and efficient organization.

The ending of the book continues the fantastical aspects of this book and as Hudspith considers how they can escape from Wine and his gang he concludes that their only hope is for a ‘deus ex machina to wind everything up happily after all.’ And that is precisely what Innes provided.
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I may be a bit too much of a traditionalist in my mystery tastes but this was a bridge too far - this reads like a fever dream or a story told to you by a 4-year old (in the "and then this happened and then this happened and then and then....). A hard pass.
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Usual Innes writing style but a little too weird for me. Couldn’t get my teeth into it.
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I struggled to read this book and gave up in the end. I found the writing too meandering in style and the storyline too farfetched. I very much appreciate the opportunity to preview, but, not for me this one.
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Written in the 1940s this book now appears dated and was hard to get into. It has its own unique style. It was an interesting read but I do not think I would read any more books by this author.
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A good book even if it is a bit dated, especially in the way of writing.
Entertaining, a bit weird, a bit more adventurous than the typical mystery of the specific age.
It is not always easy to be involved but it is likeable.
Many thanks to Ipso Books and Netgalley
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Michael Innes, The Daffodil Affair (1942)
	This isn’t Innes at his best, because too much of it has to do with fantastical characters (including the theft of Daffodil, the horse) and a whole circus-worth of freaks, conjurors, mediums, and other strangely talented (or afflicted) types. Innes’s usual skill with layering Appleby’s investigations takes him, and a colleague, into darkest South America, where a certain Wine, a super-wealthy would-be Emperor, is building his kingdom. The book was written at the mid-point of WWII, and it shows. Since nobody’s name is actually ‘Wine’, a certain amount of suspicion is appropriate . Appleby finds his musings are unusually murky:
	But the point, thought Appleby, is this: is the man, without knowing it, himself the product of the hour? And is the softening process not the source of the plot as well as its instrument? Was not Wine in some measure involved in his own twilight—and was he not vulnerable in terms of this? The point lay there.

	He and his colleague, Hudspith (whose North Country name, perhaps from Durham), manage to follow westward and south, finding, as they do, a madman’s dream of outreach to a mystic otherworld. And the title? Daffodil is gentle horse.
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This book gave me a blend of Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes vibes. It took me such a long time to get the writing flow because the characters were as dynamic as they came and once I got the pace and the humor it became an enjoyable read.
I'd recommend it to anyone who loves a good mystery with diverse characters, you'll love this book. Thank you NetGalley for the ARC.
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Michael Innes (the academic J I M Stewart), is hardly a neglected crime writer; I’ve had a lot of his books in green Penguin crime editions over the years and see that I still have a couple after numerous book purges. The Daffodil Affair was first published in 1942 and has now been reissued by Ipso Books, ‘a digital publishing company, dedicated to bringing readers dynamic writing from classic and contemporary authors.’ It begins so well. A young London girl disappears, presumed abducted. This is a matter for Scotland Yard detective Hudspith, who is obsessed by the terrible things that happen to girls. Almost simultaneously, an apparently valueless horse called Daffodil is stolen. This sends Innes’ hero Appleby up to Yorkshire at the request of his aunt, whose friend is upset by the loss of her favourite carriage horse. On a detour in Harrogate, Appleby fortuitously witnesses the disappearance of another girl, one with the reputation of being a witch. Back in London, an entire eighteenth century house, reputedly haunted, just disappears. What can be the connection between these strange events? Everything is set up for an Appleby investigation of something extraordinary.

Unfortunately, this is where the book lost me. We are to believe that an important man like Appleby would look into horse theft. Then, which really stretches credulity, that two Scotland Yard men travel to South America, in wartime, in pursuit of horse, girls and house, with no evidence of a crime. More, they travel in company with the people responsible and know they are doing so and might get bumped off at any moment. We then spend an uncomfortable time travelling up an unnamed South American river full of alligators to an unnamed jungle area full of ‘savages’. The crime is quite outside the scope of normal detective work. At one point, Hudspith says, ‘We’re in a sort of hodge-podge of fantasy and harumscarum adventure that isn’t a proper detective story at all. We might be by Michael Innes.’
‘Innes? I’ve never heard of him.’ Replies Appleby. Clever. The whole book is clever, full of allusions for those who get them. Of course, Appleby solves the case but the greatest mystery remains (for me), how did they get the horse back to England?

I admit that a lot of my disappointment with the book is due to my irrational dislike of anything to do with South American jungles. I always think of The Man Who Liked Dickens. If you have no such prejudices, this is a witty and entertaining novel. I read it thanks to NetGalley.
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Whilst I really enjoy reading Michael Innes stories, they do require some getting into, unfortunately this one did not meet the mark.  It was as if he wasn't sure where the story was going himself, and I felt I was in a "boys own" adventure book. It is quite typical of the era but a little too far fetch adventure for my taste, although as always well written and interesting in it own way.
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Innes’ Appleby and Hudspeth remind me a lot of Christopher Fowler’s Bryant and May mysteries.  They have the same improbabilities wrapped up in a (sort of) reasonable explanation.  Appleby travels to South America to solve the disappearance of a witch, a house, and a horse.  He sorted out the explanation far before I did!
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Old-school, intellectual puzzler - Innes might be an acquired taste, but always entertaining.
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