I’ve been meaning to participate in the Crime Fiction Alphabet hosted by Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise, for weeks now, but somehow I was always just too late. Anyway, here I go now, this week’s letter is N and I’ve read a Michael Innes book which was first published in 1960.
The new Sonia Wayward is an unusual book because there are no really likeable characters in it, which for me anyway is usually a real turn off in a book but this one manages to overcome that huge disadvantage.
It begins with the very sudden death of Colonel Ffolliot Petticate’s wife, Sonia Wayward, whilst they are out sailing in their small yacht. It’s a financial disaster for her husband as Sonia was earning the money as a writer of very popular fiction. The colonel is retired from the army and only has a small pension to live on.
After imbibing a large quantity of whisky to settle his nerves, he decides to dispose of Sonia overboard, with the intention of telling everyone that she is travelling, it’s important to pretend that she’s still alive, so that he can continue to live his very comfortable life. He takes on the task of finishing Sonia’s latest novel and fends off all inquiries as to Sonia’s whereabouts.
At the beginning the Colonel decides to keep the lies and deceit to the minimum, but they multiply like crazy and he finds himself in a very sticky situation when his live-in servants become suspicious as to the fate of their employer.
That’s really just the bare bones of the book as I don’t like to say too much about crime fiction, but this book is absolutely full of twists and turns from the very beginning and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Michael Innes was born in Edinburgh in 1906, was educated at Edinburgh University and Oriel College, Oxford and went on to become a Professor of English at various universities. He had a very long writing career which you can read about here. He also wrote under his real name, J.I.M. Stewart, and those books are also well worth reading.