Appleby’s Answer by Michael Innes – 20 Books of Summer 2021

Appleby's Answer cover

Appleby’s Answer by the Scottish author Michael Innes was published by Gollancz in 1973 so I suppose that means it’s vintage crime now although that seems a bit strange to me, however in some ways the book seems even older than that. It begins with Miss Pringle sharing a railway compartment with a strange man. Miss Pringle is a crime writer with a penchant for ecclesiastical settings and she’s travelling to London to attend a dinner with a group of fellow crime writers.

Captain Bulkington is the other traveller and strangely he’s reading a copy of one of her books, when he recognises her from the photo on the dust jacket the two get into conversation. Bulkington has a private school, a crammer which coaches young men to pass the entrance exam for top drawer universities. It’s a business that he has taken up since retiring from the army, but he has a proposition for Miss Pringle. He wants to collaborate with her in writing a book and invites her to stay at his establishment, but Miss Pringle has her suspicions about him and just agrees to correspond with him instead.

However she decides to travel to Bulkington’s village to do a bit of detective work and discovers that there are only two students enrolled in the crammer, and neither of them seem to be university material. It seems that Bulkington has some sort of hold over them.

Appleby and his wife have travelled to the same Wiltshire village to visit friends and so become embroiled in the affair.

This isn’t a murder mystery but is an entertaining read with quite a lot of humour thrown in. My copy of the book is an old Gollancz one and I couldn’t help thinking of Diana Athill who would have been working as an editor there when this one was published, I don’t think she mentions Michael Innes in any of her books though. This was one of my 20 Books of Summer.

4 thoughts on “Appleby’s Answer by Michael Innes – 20 Books of Summer 2021

  1. This sounds interesting. I’ve read quite a lot of the Appleby books and there have only been two or three that I could really describe as murder mysteries. I’m glad this one was entertaining!

  2. I read a lot of the Inspector Appleby books by Innes when I was younger, and I have been meaning to get back to them. I have a good number of them that I have acquired over the years. But I guess this isn’t the place to start. I like Appleby’s wife too, but I should read at least one from the earlier books before I get to this one.

    • tracybham,
      I also have quite a few unread on my shelves that I’ve been meaning to get to for years. I think that Campion improved after he got married to Amanda, or maybe he just improved with age!

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