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Death at the President's Lodging (Sir John Appleby, #1)
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Group reads > February 2017 - Death at the President's Lodging by Michael Innes

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Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8239 comments Mod
Welcome to our February group read, Death at the President's Lodging by Michael Innes.

This thread is for people who may not have finished the book yet, so please don't post any spoilers here, but save them for the spoiler thread.


Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 104 comments I'm about 80% done. Did anybody, like me, find some of the side narrative distracting? It really slowed the pace of the story for me. I have enjoyed the academic setting, the police, and the students.


Lesley | 383 comments Yes, it seemed to begin well and flowed along with a good plot and a little side narrative, but then the side narrative overtook the plot making the book drag for a bit.

I too liked the academic setting. I tended to think of Morse from time to time.


Susan | 9227 comments Mod
While I enjoyed re-reading this, it made me realise how I nearly always read books now with female central characters. I found this an enjoyable, but a difficult read in parts. It was dry and I agree with Ella's Gran, that it dragged for me a bit.


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8239 comments Mod
I enjoyed the academic atmosphere too but at times found the book a little slow building. There are some great characters and I enjoy Innes' humour and the literary references.


Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 104 comments I'm so glad to read these posts as I thought I'd be the only one feeling this way.


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8239 comments Mod
I have been looking for a couple of good links about Michael Innes, but it seems to be harder to find much about him than with other famous Golden Age authors.

He is a famous writer under two names, his real name, J.I.M Stewart or John Innes Mackintosh Stewart and Innes, but I haven't been able to find a website or society for him under either name!

Here is a potted biography, anyway:
http://www.petersfraserdunlop.com/cli...

And here is a nice blog post about the book - it does describe part of the plot but I don't think there are any serious spoilers:

https://heavenali.wordpress.com/2015/...


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8239 comments Mod
One problem with reading this on Kindle was that it isn't easy to keep flipping back to the "St Anthony's College" map at the start.

Having said that, I always find it hard to place the story on maps anyway - does anyone find them a help in following mysteries?


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8239 comments Mod
I like the relationship between Dodd and Appleby - makes a change to have a local policeman and one from outside who actually get on and respect each other instead of being deadly rivals, as they are in so many books!


message 10: by Lynne (new)

Lynne Pennington (bluemoonladylynne) | 112 comments I never met a map I didn't like! It seems especially helpful in mysteries. Maps of the building, maps of the room, maps of old London, they are all good. What I really hate is getting a book from the library and the maps are on the inside front and/or back covers, and you can't see them because there are stickers and stuff all over them.


Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 690 comments Thanks for the link to the bio, Judy! I love some of the novels he wrote under his own name, including the “Staircase in Surrey” series (starting with The Gaudy) and Mark Lambert's Supper. He was astonishingly prolific as a writer despite being a working academic.

I’ll put in a vote in favor of maps, too! Though people publishing Kindle books should add a link to the map in the TOC.

Astonishingly (I thought I had everything the man ever wrote), I can’t find a copy of Death at the President’s Lodging on my shelves and am waiting for my copy to arrive.


message 12: by Lynne (new)

Lynne Pennington (bluemoonladylynne) | 112 comments I have been out looking for more info on Innes and there doesn't seem to be anything devoted specifically to him, other than the usual articles on Wikipedia, some of his publishers, etc. Since he also wrote some scholarly stuff, I would have thought there would be more about him out there.


Susan | 9227 comments Mod
Interesting to read what there is about him, even if there isn't too much to go on!


message 14: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 309 comments Judy wrote: "Having said that, I always find it hard to place the story on maps anyway - does anyone find them a help in following mysteries? ..."

I don't think I've ever used a plan to solve a mystery but I do find them useful to build a picture of the scene and imagine how people move around the house.


Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 690 comments Perhaps there is more material to be found about the author under his real name, J. I. M. Stewart. Here’s one from the Oxford Times that might interest some: http://www.oxfordtimes.co.uk/news/gra...


message 16: by Lynne (new)

Lynne Pennington (bluemoonladylynne) | 112 comments When we read Fer-de-Lance, I was grateful for the map to visualize things better. So I think maps can help without giving too much away.


message 17: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8239 comments Mod
Abigail, thanks for that great link. Some wonderful anecdotes in that article! I'd like to try some of the books published under his real name as well as more Innes books.

I was rather surprised that the college president has a butler in this novel - this is something I've always associated with the aristocracy rather than academia!


Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 690 comments If you like to expand your vocabulary, Judy, you’ll enjoy some of the J. I. M. Stewart books. I thought I had an excellent grasp of the language before I read them, and I quickly learned just what a dumb American I was! The Staircase in Surrey series takes real dedication—the plots seem random and rambling until the final scene in book 5, when a minor incident ties everything together in the neatest way. Mark Lambert's Supper is probably a good entry point for his work. Some of the ones written in his old age are rather half-hearted.


message 19: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8239 comments Mod
I'll look forward to expanding my vocabulary, Abigail! I think my mum has a few of the Stewart books, so I will see if she has Mark Lambert's Supper in her collection.


message 20: by Judy (last edited Feb 02, 2017 10:06PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8239 comments Mod
For anyone who has read on in the series, does Appleby develop much as a character? The only other Innes I've read so far is The Journeying Boy (which I really liked), where Appleby is just briefly mentioned.

From this book alone, I don't find Appleby a very memorable detective, but I'm guessing he must be in later books, given how long his career continued for!


Susan | 9227 comments Mod
Some of these early GA books really don't develop the detective very much, do they? They are just the mouthpiece for the author. However, over time, they might develop quirks and come into their own. I haven't read on in this series, but I think I liked this enough to read the second one.


message 22: by Jill (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jill (dogbotsmum) | 1774 comments Finding this pretty hard going, so pleased to see that others have experienced this too. Seems it will pick up, so looking forward to that.


message 23: by John (new)

John Frankham (johnfrankham) | 30 comments Please don't give up on Appleby! This one is a fairly straightforward closed-room type of whodunnit, whereas Innes develops him brilliantly and involves him in erudite, magical, adventure, and farcical plots.

Operation Pax; Hamlet, Revenge, Appleby's End are three of the best GA I have ever read - and re-read, and re-read.

After his peak period during and after the war, the last dozen or so do get shorter and with a narrower breadth of plot and focus.

He does find a wife in one of his books, and has progeny, so there is some development of that area.


Susan | 9227 comments Mod
I will admit to finding it a little dry, but I did enjoy it and I would certainly like to read on. Perhaps we need to nominate the second book at some point?


message 25: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8239 comments Mod
Thanks for the info on the later books in the series, John. Sounds like an intriguing mix - I will read on!

I'll admit I sometimes found it hard to keep track of the various characters in this book - did anyone else have this problem? This is one where I think I would have done better to read it in a print copy, as on Kindle it is hard to look back and check which of the academics is which.


Susan | 9227 comments Mod
That is one minor flaw with reading on kindle - as well as not being able to read the maps clearly...


message 27: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8239 comments Mod
Yes, but of course there are so many advantages too! :)


message 28: by John (new)

John Frankham (johnfrankham) | 30 comments With so many books I find that for the first few chapters I need to write down characters, family trees, etc, on a bookmark, so it's always handy. Now I do the same when using Kindle. Us oldies!


message 29: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8239 comments Mod
Great idea, John, I will start doing the same in future!


message 30: by Jill (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jill (dogbotsmum) | 1774 comments John wrote: "With so many books I find that for the first few chapters I need to write down characters, family trees, etc, on a bookmark, so it's always handy. Now I do the same when using Kindle. Us oldies!"

That is a great idea, John. I think I will have to try that


message 31: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8239 comments Mod
Academic settings do make a great backdrop for mysteries, don't they, in this book as in a number of others? It seems as if there are always all kinds of rivalries simmering under the surface which make for plenty of suspects, as in the Inspector Morse mysteries.


Susan | 9227 comments Mod
Yes, academics all look very serene, but obviously they are full of rage :) I did really like the setting and the whole ritual that existed in the college though. I thought it was really well done.


message 33: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 540 comments Judy wrote: "aving said that, I always find it hard to place the story on maps anyway - does anyone find them a help in following mysteries? ."

I love maps, diagrams, all that stuff. I have always loved maps, both for their inherent beauty and for the fun of reading and interpreting them; a valuable skill for a wilderness trip leader where the topographic maps are the only way of knowing where to go next and you have to be able to visualize the terrain from the map so as to know which of those dozens of inlets or bays is the one that leads to the outflow.


message 34: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8239 comments Mod
Sounds as if it's just me who doesn't get on very well with maps, then - I do like them and agree they are beautiful, so I'm always pleased to see one in a book, but I just have a job visualising the layout or following the directions!


message 35: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 540 comments John wrote: "With so many books I find that for the first few chapters I need to write down characters, family trees, etc, on a bookmark, so it's always handy. Now I do the same when using Kindle. Us oldies!"

Gee, you too? But I do it on the endpapers, which is more likely to stay with the book than the bookmark.


message 36: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8239 comments Mod
I was a bit surprised to find that there doesn't seem to be a TV version of this - surely it would lend itself to the screen, with the historic college setting, the rival academics and the whole business of the bones (I'll say no more on that front in this thread to avoid getting into spoiler territory)!

I suppose the success of Morse and its spin-off series has probably put TV companies off adapting any other academic mysteries, which is understandable.

In general, I definitely find that watching TV versions helps me to remember the book, though - including remembering the differences between the two!


Susan | 9227 comments Mod
If it had been televised, it probably would have been in the forties/fifties. It seems perfectly to catch the dry, male, academic world of that era and I can see it in black and white, on a Sunday afternoon...


message 38: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8239 comments Mod
Yes, I agree - it's certainly very male. I'm currently rereading (it's not long since I read this one the first time, but it didn't stick in my mind all that well) and am about 60% of the way through, and I'm not sure if a woman has appeared at all so far! Of course I'm probably forgetting a housekeeper or maid...

I do find the witty and readable style makes it less dry than it could be, though.


Susan | 9227 comments Mod
There is a real absence of female characters. I wonder if there are more women in later books? I guess we'll just have to read on and see?!


message 40: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8239 comments Mod
I suppose this tends to happen in books set in single sex colleges - I don't think there are many men in the Miss Pym Disposes by Josephine Tey, though of course afew do feature in Gaudy Night!


message 41: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 540 comments I am totally unable to get "into" this book. I tried, I really did, but it's going back to the library mostly unread.


Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 104 comments Everyman wrote: "I am totally unable to get "into" this book. I tried, I really did, but it's going back to the library mostly unread."

Eman, believe it or not, we agree :) I did finish it, but it really wasn't enjoyable to me


message 43: by Sandy (last edited Feb 09, 2017 08:36PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Sandy | 2450 comments Mod
It was not a favorite. I finished it, but skimmed much of the literary asides. I'll finish my thoughts in the spoiler thread.


Susan | 9227 comments Mod
Not every book clicks for everyone, which is fine. I had read last months book before and never enjoyed it and I didn't re-read. I had also read this before, but I did enjoy reading it again - perhaps I enjoyed it more the second time round, I think. However, I can totally see why some people struggled with it.


message 45: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8239 comments Mod
Sorry to hear you didn't enjoy this, Everyman and Deborah. I quite liked it and will read on in the series, even though I did find it hard going at times.


Susan | 9227 comments Mod
I think it was a little hard going in places, but I am intrigued to read on.


Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 104 comments Judy wrote: "Sorry to hear you didn't enjoy this, Everyman and Deborah. I quite liked it and will read on in the series, even though I did find it hard going at times."

All those lengthy asides interrupted the flow for me. I enjoyed the characters, I completely agree with Susan - not every book is for every reader, and I also think sometimes it's just not time for the reader to read that particular book. :)


message 48: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8239 comments Mod
I know what you mean about the asides, Deborah, but I've enjoyed some of those where detective fiction is discussed. For instance, I've just come across a bit where Gott suggests that 'Seven Suspects' would be a good title, and I believe that is indeed the title of some US editions!


message 49: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8239 comments Mod
I quite enjoy the character of Slotwiner - the roundabout way he speaks reminds me of both Jeeves and Bunter! I wonder if many butlers really spoke in this way in real life?


Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 104 comments Judy wrote: "I quite enjoy the character of Slotwiner - the roundabout way he speaks reminds me of both Jeeves and Bunter! I wonder if many butlers really spoke in this way in real life?"

I enjoyed that name too. It kept making me smile


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