Saturday, July 30, 2011

Lord Mullion's Secret, by Michael Innes

Lord Mullion's Secret
By Michael Innes

If you can write a novel in which not much happens and still make it a page-turner I'd call that a rare talent. I know it sounds rather paradoxical but Michael Innes pulls it off quite nicely in Lord Mullion's Secret.

Innes was actually John Innes Mackintosh Stewart, or J.I.M. Stewart, and he wrote quite a lot of crime and mystery fiction between 1936 and 1986. I've read one other of his Charles Honeybath mysteries, but memory fails me right now as to what the title was.

Honeybath is a portrait painter who is called on in this instance to do a portrait for one of the members of a slightly down at the heels upper crust British family. Which is a similar premise to the other Honeybath book I read. When he gets to the family's suitably grandiose home, he finds, as is so often the case in these books, that all is not well.

At first, it seems that the plot is going to tackle the matter of a missing painting, but at some time during the proceedings Innes seems to abandon that thread to focus the story on some sordid incidents in the family's past.

I liked this one quite a bit for the sense of atmosphere Innes creates and the look he provides into the world of the British upper class, a world that I really know only from books like these. As already noted, the very skimpy plot wasn't really a problem for me but your mileage may vary.

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