Read Hamlet, Revenge! by Michael Innes Online


At Seamnum Court, seat of the Duke of Horton, The Lord Chancellor of England is murdered at the climax of a private presentation of Hamlet, in which he plays Polonius. Inspector Appleby pursues some of the most famous names in the country, unearthing dreadful suspicion....

Title : Hamlet, Revenge!
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781842327371
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 312 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Hamlet, Revenge! Reviews

  • Susan
    2019-03-07 10:25

    This is the second Inspector Appleby book, following on from, “Death at the President’s Lodging.” This mystery was published in 1937 and has a classic, Golden Age setting, with much of the action taking place in a country house, where there is a production of “Hamlet,” taking place. Before the play is staged, there are warning messages received. Then, during the performance, there is a cry of help and a pistol shot…A very distinguished guest has been killed and Inspector Appleby is sent to investigate. He meets up with Giles Gott, who appeared in the first book in the series, and acts as his guide to the guests and family. With war on the horizon, there are suggestions of espionage, along with murder, for Appleby to contend with and a mysterious puzzle to unravel. Michael Innes writes very dense plots, which really involve a lot of complex themes. If you imagine that Golden Age crime novels involve country house parties, a few aristocratic guests and a simple plot, you are very wrong. If you want to have any hope of solving this crime you will need a sharper mind than I possess and possibly need to take notes! I do enjoy Innes, but his writing requires concentration and an excellent memory for characters and the different strands of the plot, which he deftly weaves together.

  • Leslie
    2019-03-13 11:29

    Innes takes his time setting the stage, introducing us to (most of) the cast of characters in what is essentially an English country house murder mystery with a twist, as Scamnum Court is closer to a castle than a house and the Duke and Duchess of Horton have over 200 house guests (with associated servants). The pace picks up considerably once the murder occurs (during an amateur performance of Hamlet), and Inspector Appleby is sent to investigate by none other than the Prime Minister himself as there is the possibility of espionage. Only hours after arriving, Appleby is confronted with a second corpse...Innes' writing style is a bit dry with a hidden wit - it might not be to everyone's taste but I like it; an author who can refer to Conrad's Lord Jim and P.G. Wodehouse's Lord Emsworth on the same page and make sly references to Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot is my kind of guy! As Appleby says at one point in the investigation: "Order, method: the little grey cells!" and later, one of the house guests suggests the Duke send for "...a real detective. There is a very good man whose name I forget; a foreigner and very conceited -- but, they say, thoroughly reliable."This is a greater tribute than it might appear at first sight; Hamlet, Revenge! first was released in 1937 so Poirot was not nearly as well-known as he is today. My biggest complaint is that things got pretty convoluted towards the end, although the ultimate solution was satisfying and unexpected (at least by me).

  • Abigail Bok
    2019-03-12 12:26

    A wealthy duchess has decided to host a large-scale house party during which a semi-amateur performance of Hamlet will be produced. She has assembled a crowd of relations and friends, plus one professional actor and Britain’s Lord Chancellor, to carry it off. Before the performance, there are various warnings that all is not right in the state of Denmark—uh, Surrey: anonymous warning messages, strange doings in the garden at night, tensions under the surface. But when a death occurs, it’s time for Scotland Yard’s most promising (and most socially acceptable) detective to be summoned to the scene.This is a house party mystery with a strong academic undertone. Characters debate (ad nauseam for some readers) the rival merits and interpretations of various historical productions of the play; literary allusions and sophisticated banter fly. The brutality of the crime (and subsequent crimes) sit oddly in this context, and are treated as a game or an inconvenience by many of the characters. This much is business-as-usual for many British mysteries of the era (it was published in 1937, though it feels closer to World War II), but the author takes the norms to his own extremes—deliciously or tediously, depending on the reader’s taste.Michael Innes (and his real-world counterpart, J. I. M. Stewart) is one of my favorite authors: I love the challenge of following his erudition, learning new vocabulary (especially in the Stewart novels set in academia), and watching an able mind at work. That’s not, I realize, what everyone looks for in a murder mystery—and if it’s not, this book might not be for you. It is intricately plotted, with many twists both foreseeable and not. There is a plethora of characters (perhaps a few too many), and there’s a sufficiency of police procedure. Characters—the key to my enjoyment of a mystery—are well-drawn and engaging. The dénouement is long and complex, with plausible cases being made for a whole series of perpetrators. I knocked off a star (or perhaps part of a star) for the fact that the final solution seemed to me the least plausible among the possibilities. A feast of the logorrheically inclined.

  • Jillian
    2019-03-14 04:13

    While there’s a reasonable story buried in this book, my summary word is ‘indulgent’. It reads as if the author is playing a lengthy parlour game with a small group of friends and letting the narrative emerge from the game. The lengthy first chapter, setting the scene appears designed to eliminate readers without a textual interest in Shakespeare’s plays. I persevered, mainly because I wanted to see if Appleby rescued the book.Partially he did. He is a skillfully drawn character and the police procedures restored some interest -enough, at least, for me to finish reading. The narrative, however, became increasingly convoluted and tiresome. In the end I didn’t care - in my view a bad outcome for an author to achieve.Innes can write - Appleby is testimony to that. This book would have benefitted substantially from an application of writerly discipline and craft.

  • Karyn
    2019-03-16 12:14

    Hamlet, revenge! was first published in 1937, and while it conforms to the conventions of the Golden Age crime novel, with a series of murders committed during a weekend house party in an isolated country home, the concept seems subverted through exaggeration. For Scamnum Court is built on a scale that dwarfs Blenheim Palace, with an extensive staff and a large number of guests. There are threats, all unclear and undirected, quoting lines taken from Shakespeare or referring to his plays. And then the first murder, committed during an amateur staging of the play Hamlet, at the moment when Hamlet runs a sword through Polonius, concealed behind a curtain in the Queen's room. The actor playing Polonius is shot, so that the stage and backstage areas define a contained space that limits the possible suspects. But Hamlet is staged with an extensive cast and so 31 suspects remain. Continued

  • Mark
    2019-02-21 04:13

    As with all detective novels, the solution to the central puzzle of "Hamlet, Revenge" is somewhat arbitrary, the mystery itself merely providing a context for the author to show off his ingenious plotting. Unlike most detective novels, "Hamlet, Revenge" offers character portraits so complex and sharply observed that the mystery becomes secondary to the thrill of discovery of a world much more sophisticated and witty than everyday reality. Occasionally offending with anachronistic colonialisms and ultimately disappointing in its plot because of its limited scope, "Hamlet, Revenge" nevertheless rewards our attention with line by line subtlety and sharpness that few mainstream literary novels ever approach.

  • Jean Hontz
    2019-03-02 10:06

    “Marry, this is miching mallecho; it means mischief.” – Shakespeare.And so it was. And Inspector Appleby arrives to find a man dead on the stage of a private production of Hamlet. What does it mean? Why? Why in those circumstances. Is it spies or a very private sort of revenge?I loved this book. It starts slow, and I wish I’d re-read Hamlet before hand, but when Appleby arrives en scene, the book becomes compelling.This is my sort of mystery. Very cerebral, very puzzle driven, a smart, calculating, inventive bad guy, where the clues are scarce on the ground and the only way to solve it is by deep thinking.Definitely continuing this series!

  • Helen
    2019-03-08 05:19

    Published in 1937, this is the second in Michael Innes' series of detective novels featuring Inspector John Appleby. However, Appleby doesn’t appear until the second section of the novel – the first part is devoted to setting the scene and introducing the very large cast of characters. As with many Golden Age mysteries, the action takes place in an English country house – in this case, Scamnum Court, which has been home to the Dukes of Horton for centuries. The novel opens with friends and acquaintances of the family beginning to arrive at Scamnum to take part in an amateur production of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. When one of the guests is murdered during the performance, Appleby is called in to investigate.This is a wonderfully complex mystery, even more so because Appleby doesn’t know exactly what type of crime has been committed. The murdered man was an important statesman whose death could have serious implications for the government, giving rise to fears that spies are operating at Scamnum Court. On the other hand, a series of revenge-themed messages received by the victim and several other guests indicate that this could be a crime of a more personal nature. With a long list of potential suspects – we are told that there are more than thirty people involved in the play in some way – Appleby is kept busy trying to establish alibis and uncover motives, while avoiding the red herrings that are thrown in his way. After a slightly overwhelming start (due to the number of characters and the detailed background information on Scamnum Court), once Appleby arrives on the scene and begins his inquiries the pace picks up and the story becomes quite gripping. It’s the sort of mystery I love: one with plenty of clues and several possible solutions – although of course only one is correct, and we have to wait until the end of the novel before everything is revealed. It’s also a very erudite and literary mystery; as well as lots of discussion and analysis of Hamlet, there are also a number of other literary allusions and references. If you know your Shakespeare you will probably get more out of the novel, but if not, don’t worry as it isn’t completely essential. Although this is described as an Appleby novel, much of the story is actually written from the perspective of one of the other characters, Giles Gott, an academic who also writes crime novels under a pseudonym. As Michael Innes himself is a pseudonym (he also wrote using his real name of J.I.M. Stewart), I wondered whether Gott was a way for Innes to project some of his own personality into the story. There seems to be a previous friendship between the characters of Appleby and Gott, whom I have found out also appears in the first book in the series which I haven’t read yet; I don’t know whether he is in any of the others. I really enjoyed Hamlet, Revenge! and am looking forward to reading more by Michael Innes.

  • Elaine Tomasso
    2019-03-12 12:07

    I would like to thank Netgalley and Ipso Books for a review copy of Hamlet, Revenge!, a country house police procedural originally published in 1937.The Duchess of Horton is putting on an Elizabethan Hamlet in the great hall. The majority of the actors are friends and family so when Polonius, aka Lord Auldearn, the Lord Chancellor, is shot during the performance the list of suspects is under 30. To complicate matters the Prime Minister suspects spies as Lord Aulderdean had some secret documents with him and various members of the Dast have been receiving strange messages. Inspector Appleby has his hands full.There is no doubt that Hamlet, Revenge! is a clever novel. It is chock full of literary quotations and allusions, intellectual characters, a convoluted plot and takes a few mocking swipes at detective fiction which seems to be regarded as a bit lowbrow and embarrassing. Well, I don't mind being regarded as lowbrow as I found the novel to be pretentious twaddle. I didn't realise what I was in for when I picked this novel to read as I was expecting a Golden Age police procedural so I found the detached style of writing extremely difficult to connect with and quite boring - it takes 25% of the novel to set the scene leading up to the murder and even then the investigation is full of discussion about the psychology of the crime (yawn). The quotations and literary allusions went right over my head and I didn't care enough to investigate. I admit that some of the psychology is good and apt, not as old fashioned as it might have been and I found the casual racism in the novel interesting as a reflection of the era although it made me shudder.Hamlet, Revenge! is an interesting read in its curiosity value but its style did not appeal to me.

  • Sid Nuncius
    2019-02-25 05:27

    I have read Hamlet, Revenge! A number of times over the years and I still get a lot of pleasure from it. It was first published in 1937, which shows very plainly in the language, the assumptions about the reader's literary knowledge and the attitudes. It's a period piece, in other words, and a very good one.The plot hinges on a murder committed during a production of Hamlet in a large country house. The redoubtable Inspector Appleby investigates as possibilities of pre-war espionage and the inevitable personal motives emerge. It is, like all Innes's plots, dense and intricate, and depends upon minutiae of sightlines in a 16th-Century theatre, a pretty detailed knowledge of Hamlet and so on. I rather like this, and Innes's enjoyable prose and dry wit add to the pleasure – including one wonderfully amusing and memorable, if wholly absurd, escape from pursuit in a formal garden.This isn't a light read and does require more intellectual engagement than many Golden Age detective novels, but it's still very rewarding and is regarded by many as a classic of the genre. Recommended.(I received an ARC via NetGalley.)

  • Damaskcat
    2019-03-06 05:27

    This is the second book in the Appleby series. Giles Gott – who featured in the first book in the series as Appleby’s Dr Watson – reappears in this one as a guest of the Duke of Horton at Seammum Court. He is directing an amateur performance of Hamlet which includes the Lord Chancellor as Polonius. When the Lord Chancellor is murdered during the play enemy action is suspected and Appleby is sent with all haste to investigate the crime.With a huge cast of suspects this crime novel threatens to become completely unwieldy but fortunately the author manages to stay just on the right side of the line. This is a complex story with many twists and turns, plenty of clues and an equal number of red herrings. I enjoyed the background of the performance of Hamlet as it was interesting to renew my acquaintance with the play. Appleby as ever is an interesting character who is not afraid to admit when he has made a mistake or jumped to a conclusions.If you enjoy reading crime novels which require a bit more ‘input’ from the reader – pencil and paper may be necessary to keep track of who was where and when – then this series of well written novels may be for you. They can be read in any order as standalone novels.

  • Sammy
    2019-03-13 06:02

    Not my cup of tea. This is my first Innes novel, and it'll be a struggle for me to return. I love classic mysteries, but this one just seemed off.First, the text is full of what a previous reviewer called "anachronistic colonialisms": the first chapter was almost impossible to read from my standpoint, with scattered characters speaking in phrases and dialects that I simply could not grasp. (When an entire conversation occurs in which you can't parse the meaning of a single sentence, something has gone wrong.) The obscene number of suspects also makes this a tough read, even for a complex murder mystery, and I felt as if this book was almost a private joke for Innes and a few stuffy, well-educated friends to pore over.The puzzle is certainly ingenious, and as a Shakespeare nut I highly enjoyed the diverse and complex thoughts, discussions, parodies and references to the Bard. Clearly my negative response to this book is a personal conflict with the author's aims, and shouldn't be taken as indicative of the book's general quality. Yet.... just not for me.

  • Susan
    2019-03-21 08:26

    When the Lord Chancellor of England is killed during an amateur performance of Hamlet, John Appleby must first determine whether a confidential document has been stolen before he can begin to investigate the murder. This novel, set in pre-World War II England, is totally delightful (if not entirely politically correct by today's standards) and a good introduction to Appleby's crime solving abilities.

  • John Frankham
    2019-03-09 10:03

    One of the earliest and best (Sir) John Appleby detective novels (1937). A murder during an amateur Hamlet at a country house.

  • Sandy
    2019-03-06 12:14

    Very interesting writing style but wordy and flowery with a great deal of repetition. The interaction between the two main characters is great. The plot is convoluted and the solution is a bit unsatisfactory. The use of the play Hamlet is interesting. Enjoyable read but takes more time and thought than most 'golden age' mysteries.

  • Sheila
    2019-03-14 10:08

    I haven't read it for years, but I've kept it a long time, so I decided to re-read it before it was consigned to the thinning-out pile. And I still like it a lot. It's a real period piece now, and I wish I'd re-read Hamlet before I started it, but it's still a really good country house murder with plot twists. I love the language and the hundreds of literary references scattered throughout, and even though I didn't recognise them all there was enough pace to keep me turning the page.

  • DeAnna Knippling
    2019-03-20 05:04

    A daring technical experiment: multiple approaches to detecting applied to the same *massively complex* problem, the various (plausible) scenarios that they come up with, and the insight into whether or not errors matter--and in whose favor.This isn't really a novel so much as it is a bunch of literary references used to spice up a HOW TO WRITE MYSTERIES guide. A mystery writer's mystery :)

  • Benplouviez
    2019-03-17 10:27

    One of the great literate inter-war thrillers. 4R2C2E, often find myself chanting "bunchy cushiony bunch" at times of stress or lightheadedness. A perfect Evelyn Waugh-ish house party, a production of Hamlet, a spy story, and the greatest of all English C20 detectives, John Appleby.

  • Crittermom
    2019-03-20 04:10

    Literate and well researched, Hamlet, Revenge is both entertaining and intellectually stimulating. The large cast of characters is well developed, as is necessary for a character driven mystery. It isn’t your average manor house mystery by any means. At the vast Seamnum Court, an amateur performance of Hamlet with a cast of scholars, politicians, aristocrats, bohemians and one singular actor is being staged. Anyone who is anyone plans to attend. But a glittering performance is marred, first by odd threats quoting Shakespeare, then by the murder of the Duke of Horton. Inspector Appleby is tasked with the investigation, not only because the Duke was so esteemed but also because in his care was a document which foreign spies would desperately like to get their hands on. Was the murder for personal reasons, or was he killed for the document? The question is a troubling one, especially when matters are complicated by another murder. The suspects are numerous.Hamlet, Revenge is a bit slow going at times, but it is exceedingly well crafted. Originally published before 1940, it stands the test of time quite well.4 / 5I received a copy of Hamlet, Revenge from the publisher and in exchange for an honest review.--Crittermom

  • Mary Helene
    2019-02-24 09:21

    Quotes which sparked reflection:"But all have known that essentially they must contrive to be seen as from a long way off, that they have their tenure in remaining - remote, jeweled, and magical - a focus for the fantasy-life of thousands." (pg.227) (This book was published in 1937!)"Leisure had gone...and the others were not so much leisured as laboriously idle." (p.255)(speaking of a castle) "But now it was less a human dwelling than a dream - symbol of centuries of rule, a fantasy created from the tribute of ten thousand cottages long perished from the land." (p.328)" I suppose it is that there are people who, when the spectacle of evil opens at their feet, will stand insulated and immobile before that black pit."(p.329)and, for mystery readers and writers everywhere: " "'And what', he asked with sober interest 'brought you to detective stories?' 'Moral compulsion. The effort to give a few hours' amusement as a sort of discount on many hours boredom.'"(p.256)

  • Vanessa
    2019-03-02 11:02

    An interesting example of the country house/house party murder; it's an embarrassment of riches for potential killers (be prepared to do some heavy lifting in the first few chapters to get all your players clear) down to a manor home for a clear purpose with plenty of intricate relations between the main characters . There's a lot of cardboard British mystery-ness here so don't expect a lament for the dead or much emotional revelation, which is cool with me but may not go down so well for more contemporary mystery fans. And, perhaps, Mr. Innes goes one side road too many with regard to Shakespeare, Hamlet, and academia in general? A strong recommend. I received an ecopy from the publishers and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  • Jill
    2019-03-18 05:07

    Seems I'm in the minority here, but this book just didn't appeal to me. I know the author has to set the scene at the beginning , but this went on for 25% before anything actually got underway. I thought the quoting of Shakespeare was put in for padding , where he could have said the play commenced. I admit I had no idea who was the murderer, but by that time I had given up caring. I have read the first book in the series and that introduced Appleby to me, who I quite liked , even though he did seem to be going round in circles in that , but I find in this one , he was doing it again, and every thing kept being repeated.I may well read another in the series , but doubt if it will be for a long time

  • Helen
    2019-03-01 07:27

    A little too mannered, even for me.

  • Simon Mcleish
    2019-02-25 11:17

    Originally published on my blog here in June 1998.This is a much earlier Appleby novel than the two Michael Innes books I had read previously, and much more in the detective fiction mould than the thriller mould of Operation Pax. In fact, the background to Hamlet, Revenge! is about as archetypal as you can get: an amateur dramatic performance of Hamlet during a country house house-party at which the actor playing a character who is killed (in this case Polonius) is actually murdered.Everything is on a rather large scale; the amateur dramatic performance includes as Hamlet the greatest professional actor of the day, Melville Clay; the country house is at Scamnum Court, modelled on Blenheim Palace and seat of the Duke of Horton; Polonius is not killed by a sword stroke from Hamlet but is killed by a gunshot at the moment when his stage death would happen; and the fact that Polonius is played by Lord Auldearn, a major political figure currently co-ordinating some top secret defence work means that an espionage thread can be worked into the plot. The murderer has also been rather cheeky, by sending warning messages in apparently easily traced ways, and by taking apparently reckless risks.I enjoyed John Appleby's unravelling of the plot greatly, and will be reading more to fill in his career from this early novel to the late ones like Silence Observed.

  • Tytti
    2019-03-22 12:04

    Hmm... maybe I read this at the wrong time. I probably would have enjoyed it more if I hadn't been looking for a quick read. Is "literary mystery" a genre? Because that is what this book felt like, meaning it had more to it than just the mystery. It is said to be one of the classics of the genre, which is why I wanted to read it.First published in 1937 it had already signs of the turmoil that was coming with all the talk of spying. There were also more characters/suspects than usually in mysteries which made the story complicated. We also followed many of them and got to know them outside of the mystery solving. And no, I didn't figure it out.A big part of the story was the play during which the murder happened, Hamlet, and also the few days of preparations before that. Maybe too big for me at this time. I would recommend reading or watching Hamlet before reading the book, it might make it more interesting. There were also other references to literature that I found pretty funny. All in all, it's difficult for me to rate this, I could give it 3, 4 or even 5 stars. I think it's well written and better than an average mystery novel, but I felt I couldn't appreciate it enough while reading it.

  • Deborah
    2019-02-25 12:11

    I read several of Michael Innes' Inspector Appleby novels in my teens and really enjoyed them. Re-reading this one 30 years later, I notice how different the pacing of the book is from any contemporary detective/crime fic/mystery novels. there's a prologue, that gives a lovingly detailed description of the history of the (fictional) Crispin family, from Tudor times until when the book was written (the 1930s), including the changing architecture and landscaping of their estate/manor house, Scamnum Court. Then there are introductory scenes where the author names and describes to the reader the cast of characters as they appear at Scamnum and begin to interact with each other. Not sure what page I'm on, because I'm reading an e-book with the font increased quite a bit, but a couple of chapters in, and I could think this was a country house comedy of manners, not a crime novel, but for a few vaguely threatening typed-out quotes from Shakespeare that a few of the characters have found inexplicably in their possession. the past truly is a different country.

  • Becky
    2019-03-17 11:21

    Hamlet, Revenge is the first mystery novel I've read by Michael Innes. It was published in 1937 and stars Inspector Appleby. The first half of the novel focuses on Scamnum Court, the family is producing a private showing of Shakespeare's Hamlet. Family, family friends, friendly acquaintances will star in this tragedy. Of course, from the start, readers know that all will not go well. (It is a mystery, after all. But there is plenty of foreshadowing in the introductory chapters.) The second half of the mystery focuses on Inspector Appleby and company as they try to solve the murder(s) that occurred on that tragic weekend. There are SO MANY suspects in this one. So many characters introduced, and it was almost impossible to remember who was who. The mystery is very detailed, clues abound, and if you've got the attention to give to this one, it would probably be worth your time. It took me a while to get into this novel, but by the end I did care.

  • Sally
    2019-02-28 05:30

    In some ways this was one of the best Michael Innes "Appleby" mysteries I have listened to, and in some ways it was the worst. I felt it could have undergone some re-writing to tighten up some parts and flesh out others. Even by the end of the book I was not sure who all of the characters were, or how they fit into the story. It may have just been the narrator, with the heavy accent for the gardener, but I hardly understood a word of the conversation with the Duke in the early part of the book. I listened to that three times and still did not get what was said.The thing I liked about it was the setting of putting on a production of Shakespeare's Hamlet in a home setting - it was a sort-of theater-in-the-round, where the stage, lighting, sets and props were explained - and a mystery where the murder seemed to be impossible to pull off. In this case, Appleby was not the most clever detective, and solving the mystery rested on ideas and discoveries by some of the supporting characters.

  • Laina
    2019-03-03 08:14

    This was an enjoyable read. Innes's literary humor and style remind me of one of my favorite mystery authors Dorothy Sayers. Fans of Shakespeare will find a lot of wit here to enjoy. Although the premise is somewhat routine, it is still fun. However, I felt the author did a poor job introducing the vast cast of characters, as I don't think I had everybody straight until at least half-way through the book. I also found the solution unlikely and failing to tie up all the leads and loose ends, and as a result, unsatisfying. I would read more of these, but, unfortunately, my local library only has a physical copy of one more of the Innes Applebys. If you enjoyed this, I would highly recommend Dorothy Sayers Peter Wimsey books.

  • Nancy
    2019-02-22 06:23

    As a classic whodunit, this certainly deserves a much higher rating. To a modern-day reader, though, the stylized writing of the 1930's is a hard slog, unless you happen to be into that sort of thing. Shakespeare afficionados would appreciate the links to his works. I stuck with it because it's in a book that lists "must reads" in several genres. The ending was a surprise, with a bit of suspense thrown in, but it just wasn't enough to make me rate as "liking it."