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Mystery Monday Review – A Connoisseur’s Case

A Connoisseur’s Case by Michael Innes

Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)

 

This 1962 mystery is known as The Crabtree Case in the US. It is a late novel with series hero Sir John Appleby in his retirement. It begins with the Applebys taking a summer country walk and to Sir John’s chagrin, Judith wants to barge in on Scroop House, to look over the valuable antique furniture of a stately mansion.

Crossing an old canal and ending up at a pub run by on an obnoxious poser, they fall into conversation with Seth Crabtree, a stage rustic who seems to have walked out of Hardy’s The Woodlanders. As the former cabinet maker for mansion, he tells them of the glory days of Scoop House and its owner Mrs Coulson, a grand collector of objets d’art and antiques. Shortly after, the Applebys find Crabtree floating in the canal, shot dead. Though not as dramatic as the earlier novels, this still features tight, witty writing.

“Judith looked south—which was towards what Appleby had called the secondary motor road. All she saw was a momentary glint of light.

“‘I think,’ she said, `that I saw the sun reflected from the wind screen of a passing car. Right?’

“‘Right as far as you go. What you saw was a silver-grey Rolls-Royce Phantom V.’

“‘My dear John, it’s terribly vulgar to name cars—particularly astoundingly expensive ones. It’s only done by cheap novelists. You must just say: `a very large car.”

“Appleby received this with hilarity.”

Take that Ian Fleming, you brand name-dropper you. If you find this kind of thing as hilarious as Sir John and I do, you should read Michael Innes.

 

 

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