Going It Alone by Michael Innes

Michael Innes was a Scottish author who also wrote under the name of J.I.M. Stewart, which was his real name but as Going It Alone is a mystery it’s a Michael Innes book. It’s ages since I read any of the Stewart books and I hope to rectify that soon but from memory this book seemed more like those ones than his usual Innes books.

Maybe it was just because the storyline involves a family and there is no detective involved, just an uncle who helps his nephew when he gets mixed up with unsavoury characters which results in attempted murder, blackmail, kidnapping and robbery.

The uncle, Gilbert Averell, isn’t exactly completely innocent himself as he’s living in France as a tax exile from England and has entered Britain using a friend’s passport to avoid having to stump up more cash to the treasury.

It was first published in 1980 and is an enjoyable bit of light reading. Michael Innes had an incredibly long career as an author, over 50 years, and he usually manages to squeeze a bit of humour into his books too.

4 thoughts on “Going It Alone by Michael Innes

  1. Hi Katrina,

    Thanks for the information on bookshops in Edinburgh. I don’t know if I’ll make it back there this time, although I’d love to; time is my enemy. I was there for a couple of days around Burns’ night 3 years ago, and I loved all of it, but especially the bookshop I stumbled across which was filled with the cheapest Penguins (and the museum, and the Blackfriars Churchyard).

    This is a title by Michael Innes that I hadn’t heard of previously, as my knowledge of him ends with the titles published as numbered Penguins. I have read about 5 so far, and I found it took me a while to warm to him as his books seemquite variable in quality, and I had difficulty with the ones with plots that verged on fantasy. However, I was sold when I read The Last Tresilians which he published as J.I.M. Stewart. That is an exceptional book.

    Thanks again,

    • Karyn,
      Is that the bookshop which was in Leith at basement level, if so I don’t know it, must investigate! I live about 20 miles from Edinburgh so it’s a quick hop for me.

      I read The Last Tresilians years ago but I still have my copy and intend to start re-reading his J.I.M. Stewart books. I remember that I loved his Oxford quintet – A Staircase in Surrey. I agree that his Michael Innes books are a bit hit and miss but he started writing them in the 1930s and went on until the 1980s so I suppose it’s inevitable that some are better than others.

      I hope you manage to get back to Scotland some day.

  2. Hi Katrina,

    I wouldn’t like to swear to the bookshop being in Leith Walk. My memory is that I stayed in a small hotel in a street off London Rd, and that I was coming from the city centre and walked past the turnoff, presumably in search of a supermarket, and then stumbled upon this shop beneath the level of the street displaying old Penguins in its windows. When I look at a map I presume it must have been in Leith Walk or Elm Row.

    I flew to Edinburgh in the middle of our summer, in January, so I boarded the plane in 40 degree heat, and then arrived in a city that was freezing. I could cope with the cold in the morning, but by the afternoon the rain had arrived, and I couldn’t believe how cold it became. My abiding memories of Edinburgh are the bitterness of the winter weather, the frost on the ground in those beautiful gardens that lie between the castle and the city centre, and that I never met anyone who could understand a single word I uttered with my Australian accent.

    I long to return and bring my children with me. I thought it was a wonderful place.

    • Karyn,
      Thanks for the info, I’m going to see if I can find that shop when I go to Edinburgh sometime before Christmas, of course it might have closed down, so many bookshops have!

      Edinburgh is a lovely wee city but it’s almost always cold, even in the summer. It’s a wonder you survived coming straight from that heat, which btw would kill me. I don’t think it’s quite so cold in the west, it’s the east coast wind which goes right through your bones which I hate. I’m glad you enjoyed yourself but next time I hope you can see some of the west coast scenery, if you haven’t already been there. The gardens are just called the Princes Street Gardens and it’s lovely to go there for a sit down if the weather is nice and you need a rest from the shops. I hope you do manage back when the weather isn’t quite so bad.

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