Saturday, 27 October 2001

Michael Innes: Money From Holme (1964)

Edition: Gollancz, 1964 (Buy from Amazon)
Review number: 980

Like several other minor Innes novels, this one seems to have been suggested by the pun which makes up its title. Sebastian Holme was a painter, who found genius when inspired by the African country of Wamba, only to die in the course of a coup. The value of his paintings has of course increased massively, and the variety of rather unpleasant characters who appear in the novel have one thing in common: the desire to make money from Holme.

The main character, critic Mervyn Cheele, is particularly unpleasant in a small time kind of way, and he things that he has discovered that Holme is still alive, posing as his brother Gregory. He tries to blackmail him into recreating some paintings destroyed in the revolution, knowing that their value is at its height.

Cheele is only the worst of a bad lot, and there is no one with whom a reader might want to identify in this novel. It is also very inconclusive, and is enigmatic about what is going on in a way which is annoying in a thriller; it is as though Innes became bored and couldn't quite decide what to do with his story.

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