Friday, May 27, 2011
The Bloody Wood: Review
The Bloody Wood by Michael Innes was first published in 1966 and is the twenty-first Appleby mystery out of about 37. This one involves the deaths of Grace and Charles Martineau, by drowning and bullet respectively. Grace Martineau was already a dying woman--did someone hasten her death or did she take the easy way out of a slow, painful ordeal? Or perhaps her husband helped her along and then took his own life? But then there are also other motives--filled with greed and fear. There is a large estate to inherit and there are secrets to be kept hidden. Sir John Appleby, Inspector with Scotland Yard, is on the scene and it will take all of his deductive powers to get to the bottom of the tangled mystery.
Generally speaking, I enjoy the Appleby mysteries by Michael Innes. They are literate and witty, albeit sometimes odd. I actually enjoy the more surreal stories. But this one, although it starts out very beautifully with literary references to nightingales and an undercurrent of the sinister, just really didn't do much for me. I spotted the culprit right away and found the investigation to be handled rather clumsily. At this point in Appleby's career, he has enough experience that the case should go down much more smoothly. And, apart from Appleby and his wife, Judith, there were no sympathetic characters. There was no one that it really mattered to me if they were the guilty party or not. If I were wrong in fingering the culprit, it would have made no difference to me. Any of the cast of characters could have been carted off to jail and it would not have mattered one bit. A thoroughly disappointing read by one of my favorite authors. Two stars.