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Hamlet, Revenge! (Inspector Appleby) Paperback – January, 2001

11 customer reviews
Book 2 of 35 in the Inspector Appleby Series

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Editorial Reviews


'Michael Innes is in a class by himself among writers of detective fiction'

(Times Literary Supplement)

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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Product Details

  • Series: Inspector Appleby (Book 2)
  • Paperback: 316 pages
  • Publisher: House Of Stratus (January 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1842327372
  • ISBN-13: 978-1842327371
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #391,231 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By ealovitt HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on September 3, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This classical suspense novel, first published in 1937 might be difficult to follow for readers who are not already familiar with Shakespeare''s '"The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince Denmark.'"
However, it is well worth reading, not only for the richly allusive mystery, but also for the characters who create and act out its tragedy. The author engraves his brittle, upper-class English in diamond-point prose. He etches their wit with acid. They are never dull. To misquote the Bard himself, 'Age cannot wither Innes's characters, nor murder stale their witty dialogue.'

For the length of the tragedy at least, the reader will inhabit the manor and precincts of Scamnum Court, principal seat of the Duke of Horton---'It is a big place: two counties away it has a sort of little brother in Blenheim Palace.'

After the second murder of the evening, C.I.D. Inspector John Appleby gives the reader his impression of the place, while searching through its corridors for the Duchess of Horton:

'"Moving about Scamnum at night, it seemed to Appleby, was like moving in a dream through some monstrously overgrown issue of 'Country Life.' Great cubes of space, disconcertingly indeterminate in function--- were they rooms or passages? ---flowed past in the half-darkness with the intermittent coherence of distant music, now composed into order and proportion, now a vague and raw material for the architectonics of the imagination'He recalled the great palaces --- now for the most part tenantless --- which the eighteenth century had seen rise, all weirdly of a piece, about Europe. Scamnum, he knew, was to be a different pattern; would reveal itself in the morning as being --- however augustly --- the home of an English gentleman and a familiar being.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Griffeth Wodtke on August 21, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I entirely agree with the other reviewers that this is a magnificent mystery. It has long been one of my favorites.

I would like to comment on another point, however: the physical book. I bought this edition because my old mass-market paperback was worn. On the last page of the new book it says "Made in the USA[;] Lexington, KY[;] 15 January 2010." The date is very close to when I ordered it, so I expect this is a "print to order" paperback. The printing is very clean and sharp, attractive and pleasing to the eye. Unfortunately, this edition contains a fair number of typos, which leads me to suspect that it was created by scanning an older edition, and that the software did not perfectly recognize the text. Or maybe the typos were in the old printed edition. They are not so frequent as to bother me, though I suppose they might bother others. I briefly kept track of them and found four in fourteen pages, to give an idea of the frequency.

It seems to me that the publishers could obtain an improved edition by soliciting corrections from readers. Anyway, it is a very interesting and worthwhile application of technology, making available a printed version of a book that otherwise might well be out of print.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Shirley Schwartz on January 1, 2008
Format: Paperback
It is amazing that this book was published in 1937 because as I just finished reading it in the very early stages of 2008, I couldn't believe how complex and intelligent this book is. I think it might be rough going if a reader is not at least a little bit familiar with Shakespeare's Hamlet, but it is still worth the effort. Innes was a remarkable writer, and his Inspector Appleby was marvelous! There are more than enough red herrings and blind alleys that Innes leads you down as you read this book. The murder at the huge manor house of Scanmum is irrevocably tied up with the play Hamlet, and it's up to Appleby to determine what is fact and what is fiction. He must try and find what appears to be an obscure motive, and he is up against a particularly ruthless and intelligent killer. This is an excellent classical mystery from the very early Golden Age, and I recommend it highly.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Damaskcat on February 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This is the second book in the Appleby series. Giles Gott - who featured in the first book in the series as Appleby's Dr Watson - reappears in this one as a guest of the Duke of Horton at Seammum Court. He is directing an amateur performance of Hamlet which includes the Lord Chancellor as Polonius. When the Lord Chancellor is murdered during the play enemy action is suspected and Appleby is sent with all haste to investigate the crime.

With a huge cast of suspects this crime novel threatens to become completely unwieldy but fortunately the author manages to stay just on the right side of the line. This is a complex story with many twists and turns, plenty of clues and an equal number of red herrings. I enjoyed the background of the performance of Hamlet as it was interesting to renew my acquaintance with the play. Appleby as ever is an interesting character who is not afraid to admit when he has made a mistake or jumped to a conclusions.

If you enjoy reading crime novels which require a bit more `input' from the reader - pencil and paper may be necessary to keep track of who was where and when - then this series of well written novels may be for you. They can be read in any order as standalone novels.
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