(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Michael Innes’s major contribution to English mystery fiction was his wonderfully tongue-in-cheek propensity for turns of phrase that prove more intriguing and delightful than his contrivances of plot. The observations of his two principal sleuths, Sir John Appleby and Charles Honeybath, offer Jamesian dialogue, extraordinary erudition, and a gently critical portrait of the English upper class. Innes’s brand of country-house skulduggery revealed his predilection for the intellectual with the sheer joy of excess. Although Innes’s mysteries incorporate elements of many subgenres, including the police procedural, amateur detection, the thriller, and the inverted mystery, they were designed first and foremost for readers who have a greater appreciation for a tour de force of words replete with scores of literary allusions than for exciting twists and turns in the action.

In a career that spanned more than a half century, Innes constantly sought to expand the boundaries of detective fiction for his readers.


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

“Innes, Michael.” In Mystery and Suspense Writers: The Literature of Crime, Detection, and Espionage, edited by Robin W. Winks and Maureen Corrigan. New York: Scribner’s Sons, 1998. Details Innes’s contributions to detective fiction and compares his work to that of other notable authors.

Jacobs, David L. “Photo Detection: The Image as Evidence.” Clues: A Journal of Detection 1 (Fall/Winter, 1980): 18-32. Examines Innes’s representation of photography and its importance to his work.

“Michael Innes.” In Modern Mystery Writers, edited by Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House, 1995. Critical, scholarly examination of Innes’s work and its place in the mystery-fiction canon. Bibliographic references.

Panek, LeRoy. “The Novels of Michael Innes.” The Armchair Detective 16 (Spring, 1983): 116-130. Useful overview of Innes’s work, written for fans of the genre.

Penzler, Otto, ed. The Great Detectives. Boston: Little, Brown, 1978. Argues for John Appleby’s inclusion in the pantheon of literature’s great detectives.

Roth, Marty. Foul and Fair Play: Reading Genre in Classic Detective Fiction. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1995. A post-structural analysis of the conventions of mystery and detective fiction. Examines 138 short stories and works from the 1840’s to the 1960’s. Sheds light on Innes’s works.

Rzepka, Charles J. Detective Fiction. Malden, Mass.: Polity, 2005. This important entry in the cultural studies of police and detective fiction looks at the genre both as revealing of and influencing the cultures that produce it. Provides perspective on Innes’s work. Bibliographic references and index.

Symons, Julian. “The Golden Age: The Thirties.” In Mortal Consequences: A History, from the Detective Story to the Crime Novel. London: Faber and Faber, 1972. Places Innes in a lineage of crime-fiction writers, focusing on his role in the evolution of the genre in the 1930’s.