Those excellent publishers Crippen & Landru have produced another in their series of ‘Lost Classics’, this time edited by the very knowledgeable John Cooper, who has previously edited collections written by two British greats, Michael Gilbert and Julian Symons. Appleby Talks About Crime brings together 18 previously uncollected stories by Michael Innes.
The book has just landed on my doorstep, so I haven’t had time to read it all yet, but I did like Cooper’s introduction, which is very informative. There is an overview of Innes’ life and crime writing career by Cooper, as well as a short account by Innes of how Appleby came into being (‘during a sea voyage from Liverpool to Adelaide’).
Here’s a sample of Innes’ reflections on his most famous books: ‘The social scene may be embalmed, in that baronets abound in their libraries and butlers peer out of every pantry. But Appleby himself ages, and in some respects perhaps even matures. He ages along with his creator, and like his creator ends up as a retired man who still a little meddles with the concerns of his green unknowing youth.’
The book includes a reminiscence about her father, the author, by Dr Margaret Macintosh Harrison (he seems to have been a man of great charm, as well as intelligence) and a complete list of all the known Innes short stories. I haven’t read much by Innes, and my preference is for his short stories rather than the novels – an early sampling of the novels in my teens was a bit off-putting, though that was probably due to my lack of sophistication – but he was a major figure in the genre, and Crippen & Landru are to be commended for having made these rare stories available to a modern generation of readers.