Fiction of Michael Innes
Innes commands such a battery of wit, subtlety, learning and
penetration that he blows almost all opposition clean out of the water.”
Nicholas Blake, Spectator, 30th
“Mr. Michael Innes is in a class by himself
among writers of detective fiction.”
– Times Literary Supplement, 3rd July 1937
“A meticulously elegant style, a dry
literary humour, and a slightly absurd (and, indeed, an absurdly
are the hallmarks of a thriller by Mr. Michael Innes: hallmarks which
constantly imitated but which remain somehow distinct.”
– Times Literary Supplement, 6th October 1961
Michael Innes is perhaps the most obvious
example of an author who runs out of inspiration. His
first four novels – Death at the President’s Lodging, Hamlet, Revenge!, Lament for
a Maker and Stop Press – are all
superb: long, complex, densely plotted and full of recondite literary
and jests, they show what a first-class mind can do with the detective
story. His works of the 1940s are, while
slightly inferior, still extremely good works, full of imagination and
(especially From London Far), but running
increasingly to parody and pastiche: What
Happened at Hazelwood is a full-blooded melodrama complete with
bold, bad baronet murdered in the study, while A Night of
Errors is a Wodehousian farce played with dead bodies.
In the 1950s, the rot sets in: Innes’s books
become much shorter (some finding it difficult to reach the length of a
novella) and trivial, often preferring to concentrate on a rather weak
a series of chases rather than on plot or detection.
This is a great pity, for (as his early works
demonstrated) Innes had genius – but no sticking-power.
These pages copyright Nicholas Lester Fuller,
2000--2010. Created 5th December 2004.