Reading this book is like playing the game of Clue. Who killed the nephew in the dining room with the gun? The butler could not have done it because he was in the study with the bobby and the professor--or was he? And is he really the butler?. The professor could not have done it because he was preparing the house for the return of the prodigal nephew. Was the acquaintence the real son of the dead nephew or was his mother simply crazy? Was the doctor involved or simply trying only to save family dignity? And who is the sinister foreigner with the drooping mustache?
Each page brings a new twist to the story as characters appear out of no where but enter the story for logical reasons. The story takes place in a typical setting--dark dreary night, a typical spooky mansion, and a chase through intense fog. Even character names are cliche: Snodgrass, Appleby, Pembrooke, and Beddoes Beddoes, to name a few. This book reminds me so much of a Shirlock Holmes' novel that I had to remind myself I was reading Innes not Holmes. However, this does not take away from the anticipation of the book. A short read (only 159 pages), but captivating. Innes keeps one's interest peaked with constant twists and turns.
Although the book is kind of cliche and incorporates corny humor, I still give it a 4 and would recommend it to Innes (and Holmes) fans. A good "starter" book if you have never read Innes before or any books from his Appleby series.
"When his car breaks down on a deserted road, Sir John Appleby wanders up a drive in search of help. Suddenly, a palatial residence appears before him, its every window blazing. In the dining room, candles are lit, champagne is on ice, and dinner is waiting. But not a sound is heard. Anywhere." (from the back cover). Michael Innes sets a flawless fantasy of a mystery. Spare copy or I'd never let it go.