Appleby's End

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 28 Feb 2018

Member Reviews

This book wasn’t a good fit for me. The writing style didn’t pull me in with the first few pages. It may be a good fit for those who can wade through  it.
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This is 4th Inspector Appleby book I’ve read. Each one seems very different. I think Michael Innes’ writing is an acquired taste with long, meandering sentences. At times I was bored and bewildered and nearly stopped reading, but I persevered until events became clearer, which they did by the end of the book.

Scotland Yard Detective Inspector John Appleby and Everard Raven, once a barrister and now a compiler of encyclopedias, meet on a train. Appleby is travelling to Snarl and Everard to his home at Long Dream Manor where generations of the Raven family have lived. They get off the train at ‘Appleby’s End’ station and from that point on the book travels off on a perilous journey, as supernatural events foretold by one of the Raven ancestors, Ranulph Raven, come true forty years later- or do they?

Throughout the book Innes drops in literary and cultural allusions and comments on writing fiction. At one point Appleby thinks it would be ‘pleasant to retire from the elucidating of crime and give oneself to the creating of unashamed fantasies,’ and that is precisely what Innes has done in this book. Appleby’s End is surreal, a macabre fantasy with a  complex and completely unrealistic plot and strange characters, with names like Heyhoe, Rainbird, Hoobin and Scurl,who live in rural, out-of-the-way places with names such as Yatter, Sneak, Snarl, Drool, Boxer’s Bottom, and Linger. There’s been a lot of interbreeding and pig rustling. Strange things are happening, people are turned into marble, or are replaced by waxworks. There’s Mrs Ulstrop who believes she is a cow, plenty of red herrings, ‘spotlights’, needles in haystacks and tales of a ‘howling and hollering head’.

During this rigmarole of events Appleby becomes engaged to Judith Raven, Everard’s cousin and there are hints that  he will retire from the police force and become a farmer. This isn’t really a murder mystery and I didn’t like it as much as three of his earlier books that I’ve read- Death at the President’s Lodging,  The Secret Vanguard, or The Daffodil Affair. Of those three I much prefer Death at the President’s Lodging,  a ‘locked room’ mystery.
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I’ve read quite a few of Michael Innes’ Inspector Appleby mysteries now; I think this is my sixth, and although I enjoyed it more than my last one, The Daffodil Affair, it doesn’t compare to my two favourites, Hamlet, Revenge! and Lament for a Maker. While I love the imaginativeness of his plots, some of them are a bit too bizarre and outlandish for me, and this is one of them.

The novel opens with Inspector John Appleby falling into conversation with a man sitting opposite on the train. His name is Everard Raven, an eccentric lawyer and writer of encyclopedias who is on his way home to his family’s country estate, Long Dream Manor. When Appleby discovers that he has made a mistake with the train timetable and won’t be able to reach his own destination until the following day, Everard offers to give him a room for the night at Long Dream. Meanwhile, they have been joined by the other members of the Raven family – Everard’s brothers, Luke and Robert, and two younger cousins, Judith and Mark – who are also returning home. They all disembark from the train together at a station which, to Appleby’s surprise, happens to be called Appleby’s End.

The eventful journey is not over yet, however. The horse-drawn carriage which has been sent to transport them from the station to Long Dream Manor gets stuck crossing a river and Appleby and Judith Raven find themselves separated from the rest of the party. Making their own way back to the house, they make a gruesome discovery – the head of one of the family servants half-buried in a snowdrift. When Appleby begins to investigate, he uncovers a possible connection between the servant’s death and a series of strange happenings in a nearby village. Strangest of all is the fact that these occurrences closely resemble plots from the long-forgotten works of Ranulph Raven, the late father of Everard, Luke and Robert. Can Ranulph’s novels really be starting to come true?

The story quickly becomes more and more surreal, as Appleby encounters a woman who believes she is a cow, animals turning into marble statues and rumours of witchcraft and magic. There are characters with names like Heyhoe and Rainbird and villages called Snarl, Drool, Sneak and Linger. At the heart of the novel there is an interesting and clever mystery taking place, but, for me, it gets lost beneath the sheer ridiculousness of it all. I’m sure it was intended to be a parody of rural life, and I could see some similarities with Cold Comfort Farm at times, but the humour didn’t really work for me.

Based on what I’ve read so far, all of Michael Innes’ novels do seem to be a bit quirky, but I prefer the ones that are slightly more serious. I’ll continue to read his books but I hope the next one I pick up will be a better choice for me.
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Innes' Appleby novels are always enjoyable, providing a welcome slice of escapism combined with an intriguing and well-constructed puzzle.
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Appleby’s End gathers together one of the strangest families in literature and plunges them into a very peculiar adventure with the erudite Appleby. This is such a unique and comic mystery, in a class by itself.
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This Appleby was finally a bridge too far; gobbledy-gook nonsense from the first sentence.  Like, we GET IT, Mr. Innes, you're waaaay literary and you're tweaking the genre. Oooooh. The least a salty author can do is make his or her polemic readable and this novel fails at that minimum hurdle.  A hard pass.
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This instalment of the Appleby series is from 1945, and it has all of Innes's typical hallmarks; the dry wit, the literary allusions and the intricate puzzle are all there.  However, it also has a sort of bizarre Gothic feel about it, with odd names, very odd characters and so on.  I found this quite amusing, and a welcome change from the academic settings its predecessor, The Weight Of The Evidence.

I find I have to space my Innes books out quite widely these days or they become just a bit arch and knowing, but as an occasional fun read they remain very enjoyable and I can recommend Appleby's End to anyone who likes a witty and well written crime novel.

(My thanks to Ipso books for an ARC via NetGalley.)
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Witchcraft, sorcery, mystical creatures, and folklore are here in abundance to get the crime started and to finish the mystery of murderous ways possibly even reuniting facts once again to the Raven family.
This is quite the 'queer' and bizarre world that Michael Innes leads us into but I'll be darn I enjoyed it.
Detective Appelby is the detective/investigator/inspector from Scotland Yard who was brought aboard to Snarl to consult on the case.
Plenty of others are hopping aboard but something is strikingly familiar about the Ravens as they are quite the intelligent yet deceitful bunch.
Ranulph Raven is the father of the present elder Ravens who wrote mystery stories in which some of those tales are coming true.
"The Comic Spirit , hither to so decisively in charge of the wanderers, slipped quietly away and poetry, stealthy of approach as always, dominated and enfolded the scene."
The action centers around the Ranulph Mystery - supernatural tales with his old stories coming true 40 yrs later.
Enter the Coachmen Heyhoe who turns up on the losing end of thermodynamics buried up to his head in snow . Was it murder? 
"That Heyhoe should have stayed alive long enough to drive his own obsequies."
Perhaps Heyhoe had a bigger role to play in all this ...as we later learn. 
So many lively and vivid characters and creatures also enter the scene from the Mongolians, to the Sabine lady , to the Old Stone Age Man , Rainbird, and Old Mrs. Grope.
With all this sorcery a scandal is sure to come to surface as Appleby's is on his way to inquire about an affair at snarl.
People and animals are turning into marble and stone and something strange is occurring but why?
The Tiffin Place and The Dream Manor are also part of this strange plot twist so be alert to changing ways.
Rather than a consequence of actions things seem to happen moreso for a cause that creates such sad misfortunes.
"Vengeance has been sworn"
Pursuing this criminal investigation will not be easy as their are too many pokers in this fire and one too many needles in this haystack..
Poetic justice is bound to happen as these tall tale stories are about to come true...so hold on tight and thank you Michael for a job well done.
I personally want to offer my appreciation and gratitude to Michael Innes for providing me this Ecopy at NetGalley by way of Aldiko app.
I truly feel that I came out of my comfort zone with this one and this is one of those books that I might not have read had it not been provided to me.
It was a quick read with plenty of thrills and mystery along with intrigue to capture the minds of readers of all ages.
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This was a an intriguing book, a little hard at times to get through, but very much a book one just cannot put away.  The mystery winds its way away around a lot of "by tracks and lanes' so to speak, but it does get to a very satisfying end, which seems to be very Michael Innes
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For some reason from the beginning of this book I had a very hard time staying engaged and ended up DNFing it a few chapters in. Just was not my cup of tea. I do appreciate the opportunity to review this book and I think if the premise looks intriguing to you, give it a shot :)
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This was great fun, with overtones of "Cold Comfort Farm" as well as the usual Classical and Eng. Lit.
references and swipes at Agatha Christie and Victorian literature, painting and sculpture.

Appleby meets the Raven family, among them, Judith, his future wife. They are both swept away and Appleby becomes involved in sorting out a swathe of rural shenanigans which might, or, this being a Michael Innes, might not, encompass murder, witchcraft and lost heirs.

All is sorted out and there is a deliciously unexpected sting in the ultimate paragraph.

Thank you to Netgalley and Ipso Books for the digital review copy.
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This series is definitely an acquired taste, and this story is one of the most eccentric: think a typical Golden Age Scotland Yard detective thrust into a Gothic setting, peopled by the weird, the Dickensian and the grotesque. Amidst all the genre-bending, Appleby solves a murder - and gets involved in a romance! Surreal, wacky, erudite and witty.
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