Cover Image: Death on a Quiet Day

Death on a Quiet Day

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Death on a Quiet Day was my introduction to Inspector Appleby and I will not be going out of my way to read more.    This was a boy's own adventure for the upper classes which was not at all my cup of tea.  I found the writing somewhat archaic and the regular literary references tiresome.  It also seemed to me to be dated in its attitude to women (who had a very small part to play).  Granted, the chase over the moor was exciting but ultimately got faintly ridiculous I thought with David getting on the horse.  In my opinion, a poor show, as David Henchman might put it.
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I only quite recently realised how deficit my knowledge of old classic crime novels or even authors was. I am slowly working my way through (my) unknowns to identify if I am a true fan of the style of fiction. With this work as an example, I would say I need more familiarity with them but am definitely partial to the lot.

The reason for claiming I need to get used to the styles of these older authors is the speed of narration. The story only picks up beyond a point and some of them (like this one) do not provide too much of a character background in the time before the problem actually arises. If that bit had been shorter, I would have actually rated this five stars. A group out as a 'reading party' are enjoying a night out. This involves some rash decisions and a lot of jabbing each other with words. Finally, that scene ends and a new day dawns. This day sees our hero  David Henchman out for an early walk to gather his thoughts and ponder over existential thoughts and read a little. His trek has him lost and he tumbles on to an odd situation. He finds a body followed by a suspect. When he tries to keep the suspect in his sights, David has to run for his life quite literally and very very fast. The trail that David leaves behind and the man he befriends turns out to be an unlikely powerful hero. This is the John Appleby of the series. I have never encountered the man and his work before but his behaviour towards David is equal parts faith and other parts as an elder would talk to a child they are humouring. This combination makes for an interesting read.

Although the beginning of the tale was slow, once the plot thickened there was a lot to take in. It was funny in a serious fashion and overall was enjoyable. I could never have guessed the outcome although a few tricks were apparent. There are a lot of red herrings thrown our way but it is easy to accept the final reveal because of the gradual buildup. I would definitely pick up more books by the author and of John Appleby 

I received an ARC thanks to the publishers and NetGalley but the review is completely based on my own reading experience.
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A bunch of students, their tutor (from Oxford college) and a few other characters are holidaying in Dartmoor. The students are on a reading tour and there is a lot of quoting of shakespeare dotted throughout.
After playing a game of chicken on a deserted road late at night, David Henchman decides the next day to take a quiet hike through Dartmoor away from his fellow students. He loses his bearings and ends up near Knack Tor when he sees smoke on top of the hill. He decides to climb to the top and en route he hears what appears to be a gunshot. On reaching the summit he notices two feet pointing skyward and a man with a bullet wound in his forehead. On looking over the other edge he spots someone walking further down. He hails this man who at first pretends not to hear David and then eventually approaches and feints innocence of the crime. Things happen and soon David is running for his life, pursued by three men. The chase takes several chapters where at times you are left wondering is David jumping at shadows, reading too much into situations just because he is still rattled from the game of chicken the night before. 
Eventually David arrives at a point to point and hops on a loose horse. This is spotted by Inspector Appleby whose interest is piqued by seeing a gunshot wound in Davids shoe. There is a little more cat and mouse before Appleby manages to get David to a police station and to hear the incredulous story of a body and a chase. 
When Appleby and David return to Knack Tor they find a body but David is adamant it is a different body whom Appleby recognises. Enter scene left the reading party who David needs to warn away as per Appleby's instructions. Things do not go to plan and another person dies. 
The following day Appleby tries to make sense of everything, a few red herrings are thrown out and David again puts his life in danger before a conclusion of sorts is enacted.
This is my third Inspector Appleby book and I have to admit is the only one I have actually been able to read with any enthusiasm. Michael Innes writes highly literate prose which can be very difficult to read at times. He also loves quoting Shakespear and poetry. Therefore his books are not the easiest of detective stories to read or the most enjoyable. I would recommend starting with this one as I found it the easiest of his books to get into.
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A slow start for a murder mystery: a group of students and their tutor on an old-fashioned reading party on Dartmoor and a lot of chat, learned and otherwise. When one of the students finds a body and has to run for his life, it gets quite exciting; I was reminded of Rogue Male. Appleby is on the spot, as usual, to untangle the mess. As with Operation Pax (which I much prefer), the interest is more in all the chasing about than in the complicated plot and it’s disappointing that we never know exactly what the villains were up to. Not one of Innes’s best.
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I have always been a fan of Golden Age Crime Fiction but somehow never got round to reading Michael Innes. I don’t know why because he inspired one of my favourite authors Edmund Crispin who took the surname of his pseudonym and his detective's first name from a character in Innes’ novel ‘Hamlet, Revenge!’

So I shall start with Death On A Quiet Day courtesy of Netgalley and Agora Books.

David Henchman is on a study holiday to Dartmoor with a tutor and some fellow students when he comes across a body with a gunshot wound to the head whilst out on a lone walk to rugged local beauty spot Knack Tor. The only other person he can see nearby quickly turns nasty and David goes on a run across country that would make a fell runner proud.
After this exciting, edge of your seat chase across the moor he happens upon Detective Inspector Appleby of Scotland Yard who is visiting his wife’s relatives locally and they return to the body together, and here we have the first twist, it is a different dead man.

I thoroughly enjoyed the chase across the moor and the later involvement of the other students in Appleby’s investigations.Although the local police were rather conspicuous by their absence, restricting themselves to one appearance in the police station and then happy to leave everything to good old Appleby.

Innes was obviously a man who could  spin a cracking good yarn. Part murder mystery, part thriller in the John Buchan style, he also throws in poetic quotes willy nilly.
I will definitely be reading more from this series, and having just consulted Fantastic Fiction there are plenty.
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Really enjoyed this novel by Micheal Innes although you can tell it was written a long time ago as some of the words used I had never heard of and had to google their meaning but this did not lessen my enjoyment. The novel starts with a bunch of students on a break and one of the students goes off on his own to reflect on an incident that had occurred the night previously, prior to leaving the inn one of the other guests remarks that climbing Knack Tor and the view would be enjoyable so off he goes. He eventually reaches his destination and is having second thoughts about the climb when he sees smoke at the top and curiosity gets the better of him. Sometime before reaching the summit he hears what he thinks is a gunshot and on reaching the summit he finds the body of a male who has been shot in the forehead. This is really where the adventure and action start and is well worth reading.
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Michael Innes does not disappoint in this story of adventure, murders, espionage  and mystery. These older books really know how to tell a story, how to make it a page turner without the blood and gut of some modern stories. Written by wordsmiths who really knew how to tell a story, create atmosphere, and fill it with characters who come to life in ones mind and then add plenty of spice and mystery.
Great read.
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Thanks to NetGalley and Agora books for the review copy.
I was cautious, if intrigued, through the  first ten chapters. I appeared to be inside the head of an adolescent somewhere on the autism spectrum, in a schoolboys’ own adventure first published in 1956.. Then Appleby appeared, took charge and the narrative came together beautifully. I ended up engaged, full of admiration, not only at Innes’s skill as a story teller, but also his insight, compassion and integrity. While yes, there are bad eggs, they are, under normal circumstances, indistinguishable from good eggs. And good eggs behave pretty poorly at times. Innes understands stupidity, group dynamics, fears and adolescent decision making.  I really enjoyed the encounter and unfolding relationship between Appleby and Peter Henchman . The touches of farce and satire are there, but in check

It would adapt well and easily to the screen. It is a very visual experience - with plenty of action and traversing of landscape.. Once again, female characters are most noticeable by their absence. Innes writes about what he knows - mainly men and boys. Within those parameters, Innes is confident, sensitive and original in his creation. I’m very grateful to have read it.
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This is the 16th of the John Appleby series. It was first published in 1956. It has recently been published in May 2019 by Agora books.
A young student David Henchman is out for a walk in the moors when he sees smoke on top of a hill. He climbs up to the top where he sees a dead man lying on his back with a bullet hole on his forehead and a gun at his hand. David looks around and sees a man at a distance walking away. He calls him up and they have a discussion. The stranger then picks up the gun and David realizes that he intends to shoot him. David runs away trying to escape. There is a long chase which is joined by some friends of the stranger. After several incidents, David finds himself in a Police station where he meets John Appleby of Scotland Yard. He tells him the entire story and then they return to the scene of the murder where a big surprise awaits them.
This is a thriller cum mystery. An interesting and intriguing story with lots of action and suspense. The characterization is good. The description of the settings is quiet vivid. There is also plenty of humour. A fun read.
However, I have two complaints:
1.The language used is highly literary/intellectual not consistent with a thriller/ mystery. This type of language extends even to the dialogues. No one talks in this manner in real life !
2. The chase scene in the beginning goes on too long for several chapters which makes for dull reading.
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David and some fellow students are spending the summer studying and hiking. After a date gone wrong, David needs some time alone. His quiet hike doesn't go as planned. David finds a dead body. Then becomes the target of deadly game of hide and seek. 

I loved Innes' books when I was younger and I still enjoy them. While the world described in its pages has changed in myriad ways, the mix of emotions the main character feels had not. Inspector Appleby is still a trat. If you are a fan of classic British mystery, give this one a try.
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Death on a Quiet Day is the 16th Inspector Appleby mystery by Michael Innes. Originally released as Appleby Plays Chicken , this classic series is being reformatted and re-released to a new generation of mystery fans. This edition, out 9th May 2019 from Agora, is available in paperback and ebook formats.It also includes chapter 1 from book 17 of the series, The Long Farewell (1958).

I've reviewed a number of these mysteries by Mr. Innes and all of them are erudite and cleverly humorous. There are several where Appleby doesn't make an appearance until the stage is set and the dramatics are well underway and this is another such. The descriptions of the settings, the isolation of the moors, and the characterizations and dramatic tension are masterful. Innes was a sublime and capable author, despite the majority of the Appleby books being light reading.

The language is polished and urbane and the whole is very civilized, despite being a murder mystery. There's a calmness about Innes' writing and I find him very relaxing to read.

Worth noting for Kindle Unlimited subscribers many (most) of the Inspector Appleby books are available for download in the KU subscription for free.

Four stars, comfort reading.
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I love a good, old-fashioned mystery. By that I mean not just a mystery set in the past but a mystery written in the past, so the current fashion for reviving the classic whodunnits of the early and mid twentieth century causes me incredible joy. They’re different in style to today’s modern murder mysteries, with a lot less grit and (generally speaking) a lot less procedure, but so what? 

Michael Innes’s Death on a Quiet Day was written in 1956 and it begins not with a crime or a grim-jawed police officers but with a group of young male students on a study week in Devon. Their spirits bubble over, there’s a bit of (very 1950s style) banter and a game of chicken in which they all pack into a car, the driver takes his hands off the wheel and lets the car coast down a steep hill until one of them loses his nerve and reaches for the brake. 

This is the set up for the subsequent discovery of a dead man on a moor and the chase which follows owes a lot to John Buchan and is fantastically gripping as one of the young men — ironically the one who was the “chicken" in their game — is hunted down across the empty moors by the killer. Then enter Inspector Appleby, a detective who loves a puzzle — and who has a classic to handle. 

I really enjoyed this book. It’s a long time since my heart beat quite so quickly for a fictional character as David, the “chicken” repeatedly thinks he’s made his escape only for another twist of fate to throw him back in the villains’ path, becoming increasing tired, weak and desperate until the chase reaches its conclusion. And once that was over and the police became involved, the chase reversed, with the police and the students working together to identify the dead stranger and establish the cause of the crime.

I loved the style, I loved the setting and I loved the chase. It was a fantastic, old-style murder with twist after twist — a profoundly satisfying read that makes me wonder how many more undiscovered gems there are in this genre from this period. 

Thanks to Netgalley and Agora Books for a copy of this book in return for an honest review.
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This is what felt like a light-hearted tale of young student David Henchman who while out for a walks finds a dead body. Except when he comes back with the police the body has disappeared. It gets a bit farcical as the bodies swap several times. There's also a chase scene which went on a bit too long for me. I enjoyed the setting of the book and it does pack a lot into it. Quite enjoyable
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The Inspector Appleby books I’m finding to be quite a mixed bag, in the sense that you never know what you are going to get. They are always entertaining and will always have a crime at the centre but sometimes they can be relatively serious, sometimes a little more humorous and occasionally verging on farce and slapstick.

This is the case with ‘Death on a Quiet Day’. It starts with a fairly light-hearted description of college life focusing on a group of students, one of whom is to be caught up in a murder through no fault of his own. It then rapidly turns into a convoluted and ever increasingly unbelievable chase story along the lines of ‘The 39 Steps’. It is a good third of the way through, right at the end of the chase, before Inspector Appleby turns up and proves to be his usual cryptic self. It is here that things take a (relatively) more steady and sensible turn, with a proper investigation and a puzzle and solution that have a logic to them as well as some hidden factors that up the suspense.
Once again, really quite enjoyable!
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David Henchman, a member of a reading party with a bunch of students and their tutor Pettifor, is in a country inn in Monachorum.  The boys play "chicken" one night, and the next morning David is ready to have a quiet time out in the country.  He sees Knack Tor, and decides to climb it.  As he is climbing he hear's a shot.  As he crawls over the rim, he sees a man lying on his back holding a gun with a hole in his forehead.  He looks around the edge and sees a man walking by and calls him up.  It is soon apparent to David that the man might have something to do with the killed man.  He starts running and has a wild time.  The man chasing him blows a whistle and another man comes running.  He tries to hook a ride with a young woman, but the car won't start. He runs more and goes into a decaying building where he throws a lot of bottles, jumps into a hay wagon, and finally jumps onto a riderless horse where he is still being followed.  He loses his followers temporarily, and finds his friend Ian who was about to go in an ambulance, but they change places.  The ambulance takes him to a police station where he meets Appleby.  They go back to the Tor, and there is a different dead man lying there.  The new corpse is Redwine, a man Appleby knows.    

But the quiet day isn't over.  At least one more man must die, while Appleby continues to his secret in an ivy-covered tower.  This is a very convoluted plot, where the characters are not always what they seem, but it is certainly an exciting read.
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Book 16 in the Inspector Appleby mysteries - a welcome re-issue, originally published as 'Appleby Plays Chicken'. Another satisfying read from Michael Innes written with both flair and humour - a murder mystery bordering on swiftly moving thriller, peppered with suspense, leading to a very enjoyable conclusion. Innes fans will surely not be disappointed.
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After the first chapter this book reads like a Richard Haney adventure _ then the surprises begin _ and when Inspector Appleby appears the story takes on all the characteristics of a classic crime novel.  For this reader that is a treat indeed _ and this book does not disappoint.  A fast pace, several red herrings and an ending with a few surprises and Appleby rounds it off _ Brilliant!  Please bring on more Inspector Appleby.
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What a titillating, enjoyable mystery romp in the English countryside!

Written almost tongue in cheek, this was a really good read and just what I needed. I will certainly look out for more books by Michael Innes, and I strongly recommend this book to anyone who likes a bit of death, humour and a moor or two. 

And, as it should be, there are some sort of military chaps and what could be a vicar involved, as well as an undergraduate bloke who seems to stumble from one death scene to the next with perfect pitch. Utter fun. If you don't  mind murder of course. 

Excellent stuff!
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I have never read an Appleby book before this one but found this to be a pleasant read. I'll go back and read the other books in the series now I think.
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Death on a Quiet Day by Michael Innes
An Inspector Appleby Book #16

Originally published in 1956 this murder mystery was written over seventy years ago. I have to say that as I began reading I realized once again that books written long ago have much more description and less dialogue and action...or it often seems so. And yet, there is something to be said for the style of Innes writing. He may tend to tell the story more than have it unroll like a modern movie filled with special effects but once I got into the rhythm of the story I was definitely intrigued and wanted to find out what would happen. 

As I read I realized that this book takes place only a few years after the austerity of WWII in England. I just looked up to find out when food rationing was discontinued and it was in 1954. It put this entire story in a different light for some reason. Many of the characters had been in the military or perhaps even spies but were back to “real” life again. Gettinga glimpse of that time period was a treat. 

David Henchman was an intriguing character. When he realizes his life is in danger he runs...and uses his brain to find a way to stay alive until he eventually runs into Inspector Appleby. Sir John Appleby may be on holiday in the area but his experiences before and now working for Scotland Yard have him seeing that David’s situation requires some looking into. As the two talk and David tells Sir John what he has experienced that morning the two realize that not only a murder or two have occurred but there is a mystery surrounding the deaths that needs to be looked into. 

I found the process Appleby used to find out what was going on very interesting in deed. There were no cell phones or computers or forensic tools as modern as now exist but find the reason and the murderer Appleby did. 

Did I like this book? Yes
Would I read more of this series? I might
Does this story stand the test of time? Yes
Do you need to read other books in the series before this one? No

Thank you to NetGalley and Agora Books for the copy to read – This is my honest review.

4-5 Stars
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