Monday, 8 May 2000

Michael Innes: The Long Farewell (1958)

Edition: Gollancz, 1975
Review number: 494

When flamboyant Lewis Packford is found dead after a pistol shot is heard, it is assumed that he has committed suicide - after all, he has just been exposed as a bigamist. But unanswered questions remain, and Sir John Appleby starts to investigate. ("The long farewell" is a phrase from Cardinal Wolsey's retirement speech in Shakespeare's Henry VIII, rather than an oblique Raymond Chandler reference, and it is its appearance on a note makes Packford's death seem to be suicide.)

As a detective story, there seem to be distinct holes in the plot, notably that Appleby ignores what seems to me the most obvious lead, the anonymous notes sent simultaneously to Packford's wives to get them to turn up at his house (which has the rather pleasing name of Urchins) at the appropriate moment.

Nevertheless, The Long Farewell is enjoyable, with an interesting background in the more eccentric fringes of Shakespeare scholarship.

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