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Michael Innes Locked Room Titles

michael innesJohn Innes Mackintosh Stewart (1906 – 1994) was a Scottish novelist and academic. He is equally well known for the works of literary criticism and contemporary novels published under his real name and for the crime fiction published under the pseudonym of Michael Innes. Many devotees of the Innes books were unaware of his other “identity”, and vice versa.

Stewart was born in Edinburgh, the son of Elizabeth Jane (née Clark) and John Stewart of Nairn. His father was a lawyer and Director of Education in the city of Edinburgh. Stewart attended Edinburgh Academy, where Robert Louis Stevenson had been a pupil for a short time, and later studied English literature at Oriel College, Oxford. It was here he was presented with the Matthew Arnold Memorial Prize and was named a Bishop Frazer’s scholar. In 1929 he went to Vienna to study psychoanalysis. He was lecturer in English at the University of Leeds from 1930 to 1935 and then became Jury Professor of English in the University of Adelaide, South Australia.

He returned to the United Kingdom to become Lecturer in English at the Queen’s University of Belfast from 1946 to 1948. In 1949 he became a Student (equivalent of Fellow in other Oxford colleges) of Christ Church, Oxford. By the time of his retirement in 1973, he was a professor of the university. He died at Coulsdon.

Stewart wrote several critical studies, including full-length studies of James Joyce, Joseph Conrad, Thomas Love Peacock and Thomas Hardy, as well as many novels and short stories. His last publication was his autobiography Myself and Michael Innes (1987).

Between 1936 and 1986, Stewart, writing under the pseudonym of Michael Innes, published nearly fifty crime novels and short story collections, which he later described as “entertainments”. These abound in literary allusions and in what critics have variously described as “mischievous wit”, “exuberant fancy” and a “tongue-in-cheek propensity” for intriguing turns of phrase.  Julian Symons identified Innes as one of the “farceurs”—crime writers for whom the detective story was “an over-civilized joke with a frivolity which makes it a literary conversation piece with detection taking place on the side”—and described Innes’s writing as being “rather in the manner of Peacock strained through or distorted by Aldous Huxley”. His mysteries have also been described as combining “the elliptical introspection … [of] a Jamesian character’s speech, the intellectual precision of a Conradian description, and the amazing coincidences that mark any one of Hardy’s plots”.

The best-known of Innes’s detective creations is Sir John Appleby, who is introduced in Death at the President’s Lodging, in which he is a Detective Inspector at Scotland Yard. Appleby features in many of the later novels and short stories, in the course of which he rises to become Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. Other novels feature portrait painter and Royal Academician, Charles Honeybath, an amateur but nonetheless effective sleuth. The two detectives meet in Appleby and Honeybath. Some of the later stories feature Appleby’s son Bobby as sleuth.

In 2007, his family transferred all the Innes copyrights and other legal rights to Owatonna Media. Owatonna Media on-sold these copyrights to Coolabi Plc in 2009, but retained a master licence in radio and audio rights. These rights are commercially licensed in the UK and abroad

Edited from Wikipedia: J.I.M. Stewart

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Michael Innes Locked Room Novels

president's lodgingDeath at the President’s Lodging (1936)
AKA: Seven Suspects
Detective: John Appleby

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Note: An in house job!

Inspector Appleby is called to St Anthony’s College, where the President has been murdered in his Lodging. Scandal abounds when it becomes clear that the only people with any motive to murder him are the only people who had the opportunity – because the President’s Lodging opens off Orchard Ground, which is locked at night, and only the Fellows of the College have keys.

One of the books that gave me an appetite for Locked Room mysteries. A complex plot that is all about keys and who had access where and when – but unfortunately not technically a locked room!

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mist & snowThere Came Both Mist and Snow (1940) 
AKA: A Comedy of Terrors
Detective: John Appleby

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Note: A new family hobby!

Stunning Belrive Priory, consisting of a mansion, park and medieval ruins, is surrounded by the noise and neon signs of its gaudy neighbours – a cotton-mill, a brewey and a main road. Nevertheless, Arthur Ferryman is pleased to return for a family Christmas, but is shocked to discover that his cousins have taken up a new pastime – pistol-shooting. Inspector Appleby arrives on the scene when one of Ferryman’s cousins is found shot dead in the study, in a mystery built on family antagonisms.

The Locked Room – Impossible Crime interest focuses on a gun that is fired when no one could have been in possession of the gun.

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appleby honeybathAppleby & Honeybath
Detectives: Appleby & Honeybath

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Note: Appleby & Honeybath join forces!

Every English mansion has a locked room, and Grinton Hall is no exception. The library has hidden doors and passages and a corpse. But when the corpse goes missing, Sir John Appleby and Charles Honeybath have an even more perplexing case on their hands – just how did it disappear when the doors and windows were securely locked? A bevy of helpful houseguests offer endless assistance, but the two detectives suspect that they are concealing vital information. Could the treasures on the library shelves be so valuable that someone would murder for them?

Note: The Innes detective Honeybath first appeared in the novel, The Mysterious Commission (1974), and again in Honeybath’s Haven (1977) & Lord Mullion’s Secret (1981), all without Appleby.

A very under-reviewed book. On the famous ‘list’ for a Locked Room Mystery review. 

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appleby ospreysAppleby and the Ospreys (1986)
Detective: John Appleby

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Note: A batty murder!

Clusters, a great country house, is troubled by bats, as Lord and Lady Osprey complain to their guests, who include first rate detective, Sir John Appleby. In the matter of bats, Appleby is indifferent, but he is soon faced with a real challenge – the murder of Lord Osprey, stabbed with an ornate dagger in the library.

A borderline locked room mystery – many elements but not actually an impossible case!

Michael Innes Locked Room Short Stories

appleby talkingThe Sands Of Thyme
Detective: John Appleby

Collections: Appleby Talking (1954) (AKA: Dead Man’s Shoes); The Black Lizard Big Book of Locked Room Mysteries

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Note: Review: Blogging The Black Lizard Part 3/8

Michael Innes was one of the great British mystery authors of the Golden Age, with his famous Inspector Appleby series. In ‘The Sands of Thyme’, Appleby tells the story of a dead body found upon a rock at ‘Thyme Bay’. A trail of footprints emerged from the dunes, demonstrating a clear limp, and led directly towards the rocks where the body rested – surrounded by a collection of sea shells. Death was due to a single shot to the forehead, a gun lay at hand, and there was even a note, which read: “As a child, I played with these for hours.” But Arthur Thorman had been a scientist working on a secret government project. Was this really suicide or a case for Special Branch? Unfortunately, the solution breaks one of the most sacrosanct rules of the locked room genre!

appleby talkingA Derby Horse
Detective: John Appleby

Collection: Appleby Talking (1954) (AKA: Dead Man’s Shoes)

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Note: Appleby Talking – 23 Appleby Short Stories!

A valuable racehorse impossibly disappears from a locked horse trailer – while it is moving!

Complete Michael Innes Bibliography

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