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Silence Observed (Inspector Appleby) Paperback – April 16, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

Review

'Inimitable blend of urbanity, fantasy, erudition, and violence'

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, he 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. Innes's most famous character is 'John Appleby', who inspired a penchant for donnish detective fiction that lasts to this day. His other well-known character is 'Honeybath', the painter and rather reluctant detective, who first appeared in 1975 in 'The Mysterious Commission'. The last of the Innes novels, 'Appleby and the Ospreys', was published in 1986, some eight years before his death in 1994. His work is still very highly regarded and 'Appleby's End' and 'The New Sonia Wayward' were chosen by H.R.F. Keating as being amongst the best 100 crime novels ever written. The 'Times Literary Supplement' said of him: '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.'

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Product Details

  • Series: Inspector Appleby (Book 19)
  • Paperback: 158 pages
  • Publisher: House Of Stratus (April 16, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1842327550
  • ISBN-13: 978-1842327555
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #949,670 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By E. A. Lovitt HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on July 19, 2004
Format: Paperback
It is extraordinary what many people judge to be 'quite up the street' of an about-to-retire Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police (New Scotland Yard). Sir John Appleby can't even escape into the peaceful surroundings of his club without a fellow member bending his ear.
Charles Gribble usually corners Appleby and bores on about mediaeval English pottery, but this time he wants to gloat over a poetry manuscript he picked up for a song.
Naturally this book being what it is, the manuscript is a forgery. In fact, it's a forgery of a forgery. Next, a Rembrandt that might or might not be authentic floats into London and vanishes just as mysteriously as it appeared. A collector buys what he supposes to be Toulouse-Lautrec's walking stick, as well as one of his paintings.
Then an antiquarian bookseller is murdered. One of the Appleby's dinner guests fails to show up. The dealer who was asked to authenticate the Rembrandt is also killed.
Appleby's missing dinner guest is found at the scene of both murders, and Sir John weighs into a case from the netherworld of faked art and forgeries. While the young art appraiser who is the chief murder suspect leads Sir John on a merry chase across England, the murderer strikes again, this time much closer to the Police Commissioner's home.
If "Silence Observed" can be said to have a moral, it is be careful whom you invite to dinner.
One thing this book has definitely got is the most sinister old woman in all of Innes. This author's characters are always vividly drawn, but this dweller in Rose Garden cottage reminded me of Shelob the spider in "The Return of the King." When Appleby finally arrives at her dwelling, the bell pull falls limp in his hand like "the limb of an infant corpse...
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Format: Hardcover
It was extraordinary what many people judge to be 'quite up the street' of an about-to-retire Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police (Scotland Yard). Sir John Appleby can't even escape into the peaceful surroundings of his club without a fellow member bending his ear.

Charles Gribble usually corners Appleby and bores on about mediaeval English pottery, but this time he wants to gloat over a poetry manuscript he picked up for a song.

Naturally this book being what it is, the manuscript is a forgery. In fact, it's a forgery of a forgery. Next, a Rembrandt that might or might not be authentic floats into London and vanishes just as mysteriously as it appeared. A collector buys what he supposes to be Toulouse-Lautrec's walking stick, as well as one of his paintings.

Then an antiquarian bookseller is murdered. One of the Appleby's dinner guests fails to show up. The dealer who was asked to authenticate the Rembrandt is also killed.

Appleby's missing dinner guest is found at the scene of both murders, and Sir John weighs into a case from the netherworld of faked art and forgeries. While the young art appraiser who is the chief murder suspect leads Sir John on a merry chase across England, the murderer strikes again, this time much closer to the Police Commissioner's home.

If "Silence Observed" can be said to have a moral, it is be careful whom you invite to dinner.

One thing this book's definitely got is the most sinister old woman in all of Innes. This author's characters are always vividly drawn, but this dweller in Rose Garden cottage reminded me of Shelob the spider in "The Return of the King." When Appleby finally arrives at her dwelling, the bell pull falls limp in his hand like "the limb of an infant corpse...
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was introduced to Michael Innes by a trilogy which contained The Journeying Boy (Inspector Appleby Mystery S.), Operation Pax (Inspector Appleby Mysteries) and The Man from the Sea (no link available). The journeying Boy had a delightful whimsy that doesn't pall on re-reading and I still return to it periodically. The other two stories were also quite creditable and so I kept an eye out for other Michael Innes books in second hand bookshops, discovering among others the wonderful Lament For A Maker (Inspector Appleby). With the availability of so many of his books now for kindle, I have read some of the others that I hadn't managed to find in print, including Silence Observed and I have to admit I can see why they didn't stay in print. Silence Observed is a very pedestrian effort - the plot managed to be both contrived and predictable, the characters were unengaging and it was altogether a boring experience.

I wondered whether I had been deluded in the first place about the quality of Michael Innes' writing and re-read The Journeying Boy to check - it is as charming as ever. So if you are considering reading Michael Innes, I'd suggest you start elsewhere and perhaps give this one a miss.
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