Monday, 16 March 1998

Michael Innes: Silence Observed (1961)

Edition: Gollancz, 1961
Review number: 11

The only other Michael Innes novel I have read to date is Operation Pax, which reminded me strongly of some of J.B.Priestley's thrillers, though I felt that Innes' pace was rather less well-crafted than Priestley's, particularly in the first half of the book. This novel, however, even though it shares the same detective, Sir John Appleby, reminds me rather more of one of Margery Allingham's Campion novels. Again, this resemblance is most marked in the early chapters, where Appleby acts in a most Campionesque (if there is such a word) manner.

Two people approach Appleby in his club one evening, with curious tales of the art world - one is a collector of forgeries, whose latest acquisition is a forgery of the work of a famous forger; the other is a respected dealer who has just been offered a previously unknown Rembrandt. This second man has a young assistant, who over the next two days is twice discovered with newly shot corpses, revolver in hand.

The book is certainly more along thriller lines than puzzle lines. There are not enough people seriously involved to make it difficult to work out the identity of the villain. By today's standards, the book is very gentle as a thriller, which makes it a pleasant, relaxing read.

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