Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Hamlet, Revenge! (Sir John Appleby, #2)” as Want to Read:
Hamlet, Revenge! (Sir John Appleby, #2)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Hamlet, Revenge!

(Sir John Appleby #2)

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  889 ratings  ·  62 reviews
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.
Paperback, 312 pages
Published September 23rd 2008 by House of Stratus (first published 1937)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Hamlet, Revenge!, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Hamlet, Revenge!

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.80  · 
Rating details
 ·  889 ratings  ·  62 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Jul 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 s
Feb 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries, british
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 i ...more
Feb 10, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Abigail Bok
Jun 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
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 Sco ...more
Sep 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
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 an ...more
Mar 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“He thinks he won’t but he will.” This statement by a female character said about the male detective’s probable bias is typical of how insightful Michael Innes is. In a recent book by Michael Lewis, the Undoing Project, Lewis discusses emerging evidence that people are highly controlled by their preconceptions even in the face of overwhelming statistics. Innes figured this out 80 years ago. As a Scotsman writing about English high society, Innes has just enough objectivity and familiarity to wri ...more
Jul 31, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery
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,
Jun 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
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 fi ...more
Jean Hontz
May 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing

“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, ve
Sep 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
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 acqua ...more
Elaine Tomasso
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 secre
Sid Nuncius
Sep 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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 thr
Feb 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery-england
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
Jan 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-detective
One of the earliest and best (Sir) John Appleby detective novels (1937). A murder during an amateur Hamlet at a country house.
Jul 08, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-classic
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.
Jan 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
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 :)
May 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.
Oct 16, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: shakespeare-ish
Another murder mystery where the murder itself takes place during a production of a Shakespeare play. This time, rather than Light Thickens and Macbeth and Macbeth's decapitation being for real, this time it's Hamlet and the murder of Polonius behind the arras being for real. Of course I can't resist such a premise, but this fails to live up to even the fairly low standard of the aforementioned Ngaio Marsh book.

Where Marsh spent fully the first two-thirds of her book building up a glorious Macbeth-ian atmosphere of
Nov 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
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 o
Mary Helene
Sep 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mysteries
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 f
Jul 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: michael-innes
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 ...more
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 c ...more
Dec 14, 2018 rated it liked it
My first read of Michael Innes, having been recommended as ome of the best British mystery books. I certainly enjoyed it, the setting, the literary connection, and also several of the characters- Appleby does not seem to be the main character, as several others appear to have just as much claim to the spotlight in this book. Unlike some other books of the genre, I enjoyed how it describes the way different deductions are the result of different premises.
To me, it was as good as it had bee
Richard Thomas
Jul 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is a dense book which requires careful reading. It’s long but unlike many more recent books, there’s not a wasted or superfluous word, indulged by the word processor. The action such as it is, takes place on a limited stage and it moves steadily to the conclusion. The denouement is not telegraphed so you must use your reading and brains to work out what and why. It’s clear that I enjoyed it and can recommend it.
Aug 09, 2018 rated it liked it
The whole first section will bore you unless you're a true Shakespeare aficionado although it does set the stage. The second part dives into solving the mystery. The third part is not what it seems and the Epilogue will probably surprise you.
Oct 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
An English country-house murder mystery. Keeps you guessing until the end.
This book was first published in 1937, so I didn't catch all the cultural references that the author sprinkled throughout the story. That didn't effect my enjoyment of this book.
May 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The combination of Hamlet and a murder mystery worked well, with Innes weaving the two threads together very skilfully. The theatrical element brought something new to the traditional country house setting, and worked well as a means of bringing a wide range of intriguing characters together.
Feb 04, 2019 rated it liked it
A 1937 British mystery that includes amateur theatre and Shakespeare; how could I skip it? This is the second Sir John Appleby mystery in a series, and I enjoyed it.
« previous 1 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Reading the Detec...: Hamlet, Revenge! - SPOILER thread 28 20 Jul 27, 2017 07:33PM  
Reading the Detec...: Hamlet, Revenge! 25 31 Jul 24, 2017 10:57AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Beast Must Die (Nigel Strangeways, #4)
  • Devil Take the Blue-tail Fly
  • The Glimpses of the Moon (Gervase Fen, #10)
  • The Poisoned Chocolates Case (Roger Sheringham Cases, #5)
  • He Who Whispers (Dr. Gideon Fell, #16)
  • Smallbone Deceased (Inspector Hazlerigg, #4)
  • Malice Aforethought
  • The Steam Pig (Kramer and Zondi Mystery #1)
  • The Chinese Orange Mystery (Ellery Queen Detective, #8)
  • The Glass Sided Ant's Nest (Jimmy Pibble #1)
  • More Work for the Undertaker (Albert Campion Mystery, #13)
  • Trent's Last Case (Philip Trent, #1)
  • Final Curtain (Roderick Alleyn, #14)
  • Tragedy at Law (Francis Pettigrew, #1)
  • Green for Danger (Inspector Cockrill #2)
  • Sadie When She Died (87th Precinct, #26)
See similar books…
Michael Innes was the pseudonym of John Innes MacKintosh (J.I.M.) Stewart (J.I.M. Stewart).

He was born in Edinburgh, and educated at Edinburgh Academy and Oriel College, Oxford. He was Lecturer in English at the University of Leeds from 1930-1935, and spent the succeeding ten years as Jury Professor

Other books in the series

Sir John Appleby (1 - 10 of 36 books)
  • Death at the President's Lodging (Sir John Appleby, #1)
  • Lament for a Maker (Sir John Appleby, #3)
  • Stop Press  (Sir John Appleby, #4)
  • The Secret Vanguard  (Sir John Appleby, #5)
  • There Came Both Mist And Snow  (Sir John Appleby, #6)
  • Appleby On Ararat  (Sir John Appleby, #7)
  • The Daffodil Affair  (Sir John Appleby, #8)
  • The Weight Of The Evidence  (Sir John Appleby, #9)
  • Appleby's End  (Sir John Appleby, #10)
  • A Night Of Errors  (Sir John Appleby, #11)