Reading the Detectives discussion

Hamlet, Revenge! (Sir John Appleby, #2)
This topic is about Hamlet, Revenge!
19 views
Buddy reads > Hamlet, Revenge! - SPOILER thread

Comments (showing 1-28 of 28) (28 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4801 comments Mod
This is the spoiler thread for our buddy read of Hamlet, Revenge! Spoilers can be posted here as it is assumed anyone reading this thread has finished the book.


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4801 comments Mod
I enjoyed the various twists but must admit I was confused by some plot elements in this book, and in particular by what the mysterious document is?

I gather it is some type of government paper, but am not sure what type. Also, who were the villains of the piece spying for - Russia?

I'm not very good at keeping track of spy stories, so apologies for my bewilderment.


Susan | 5803 comments Mod
I was bewildered too, don't worry, Judy! I assumed it had something to do with the encroaching war and that it was Germany, rather than Russia, but that was left open I think...


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4801 comments Mod
Thank you, Susan, glad to hear it wasn't just me! I suppose I was thinking Russia because the ballerina was Russian, but Germany would make sense too.


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4801 comments Mod
I was surprised to see the dictaphone featured in the plot - cutting edge technology for the 1930s! A lot of mysteries seem to feature the latest tech.


Susan | 5803 comments Mod
The 1930's was an amazing time, with so much political and technological advance. Of course, the forthcoming war would speed up scientific discovery even more, but I just assumed - with hints of war (obviously vague as I am sure the author, like everyone else, hoped it would be avoided!), that we were speaking of Germany. Russia would fit too, obviously, in the times.

I recently read a biography of "M," - Maxwell Knight - who worked for MI5. He infiltrated, and used agents to infiltrate, both right wing and left wing groups. Interestingly, he was the man who warned William Joyce (Lord Haw Haw) that he was going to be arrested, leading him to flee to Germany. I think that just shows that, however professional you may be, personal relationships can get in the way and that you must feel odd bounds of loyalty, even to the 'enemy.' Human actions can never really be that clear cut.


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4801 comments Mod
That sounds like a really interesting biography, Susan. And yes, so many developments in the 1930s - as we see in how much books changed over just a few years.


Susan | 5803 comments Mod
Also a lot of espionage features in these mysteries and there seems to be a blurring between spy and crime novels.


Jill (Dogbotsmum) | 750 comments I finished this today, but I'm afraid it was just not the book for me.


Sandy | 1069 comments Mod
I've finished and boy was I angry before the epilogue! I ranted to my boyfriend about spending so much time reading a mystery when the villain and his motive were 'insane'. I had to eat my words after the epilogue. I am still a bit bothered that the actor's motive was adventure more than conviction.

I enjoyed the writing style but have to agree with anyone who felt that they plowed through too many words. Editing could reduce the book by a half or more.


Sandy | 1069 comments Mod
P.S. I think the paper's subject is not directly addressed. Keeping it mysterious seems fine to me as all the reader needs to know is that the government thinks it is important.


message 12: by Jill (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jill (Dogbotsmum) | 750 comments Sandy wrote:
Editing could reduce the book by a half or more.

I totally agree.


Abigail Bok (Regency_Reader) | 340 comments I don’t think terseness was as highly valued in the past as it is now. For myself, I enjoy Innes’s writing precisely for its richness, for the delayed gratification. Yes, Pride and Prejudice can (and has) been reduced to a graphic novel, but so many of its greatest pleasures are lost!

[So much for the fuddy-duddy perspective, LOL.]


message 14: by Jill (last edited Jul 08, 2017 12:19PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jill (Dogbotsmum) | 750 comments I certainly don't read graphic novels, but yes I don't find Austen at all entertaining.


message 15: by Judy (last edited Jul 08, 2017 12:45PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4801 comments Mod
As a reader who enjoys 18th and 19th-century literature, I love roundabout sentences and digressions, as in Austen, Dickens and Thackeray, but I still found Innes' writing a bit of a struggle in this book at times - there is just so much to keep track of.

I liked the opening part where the focus was more on Hamlet, probably because I know the play well and could follow this, but later on I was finding it harder to pick up the references and found some passages hard work - maybe Innes needs to be published with footnotes!


message 16: by Judy (last edited Jul 09, 2017 12:07AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4801 comments Mod
Sandy wrote: "I've finished and boy was I angry before the epilogue! I ranted to my boyfriend about spending so much time reading a mystery when the villain and his motive were 'insane'. I had to eat my words af..."

You and me both, Sandy - I was fuming at the end of the previous section, but calmed down when I read the epilogue, although in all honesty I didn't really understand the motive of the actual culprit!

I liked the idea of the double ending and I also enjoyed the conversation between Appleby and Gott where Appleby points out exactly what was wrong with the earlier "solution", making all the criticisms which many readers are busy making by then.


Susan | 5803 comments Mod
It is interesting that we struggled a little with the style and yet many of us do enjoy 18th and 19th C literature. I certainly do. Perhaps we were not expecting such a roundabout, literary style in a mystery? Certainly, I think Innes is one of the GA authors that requires the greatest concentration and, although I do not think that is necessarily a bad thing, I think mysteries - even at that time - were changing to a more straightforward style. I wonder how successful he was at the time - I don't know much about him, and if/when he fell out of style?


Rosina (RosinaRowantree) | 129 comments I have just finished listening to the Audible Hamlet, Revenge (read by Matt Addis). This is my second listening, and I'm certain that I read it before, probably in the 70s when I read most of the Innes books, borrowed from the library.

I like the style, even when I don't understand all the references. And when you do it's a triumph (although on second/third reading possibly a cheap one).

For Judy - the actual document is 'read' in the Epilogue. It is entitled "Memorandum of Cabinet: Emergency Organisation Basic Chemical Industries, dated 2/6/30" Appleby then stops the rest of the cylinder being played. I suspect that in the original print edition the date is given as '2/6/3-' - the book was written in the late 30s and it seems unlikely that such an old document would be of interest, or that the was meant to be set several years earlier. Are there any other clues as to the date of the book?


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

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4801 comments Mod
Rosina wrote: "For Judy - the actual document is 'read' in the Epilogue. It is entitled "Memorandum of Cabinet: Emergency Organisation Basic Chemical Industries, dated 2/6/30" Appleby then stops the rest of the cylinder being played. I suspect that in the original print edition the date is given as '2/6/3-' "

Many thanks, Rosina - I'd totally missed this, as it comes at the end of the stream of wording from the black box and in the Penguin edition I read (looks like a recent reprint) there are no capital letters - it reads:

I hope you will be all right if I go back now a very great shock memorandum of cabinet emergency organisation basic chemical industries date two six thirty -

That dash after the "thirty" suggests you are right that it is cut off in the middle of saying the year, so we don't find out which year the meeting was held.


Sandy | 1069 comments Mod
Susan wrote: "It is interesting that we struggled a little with the style and yet many of us do enjoy 18th and 19th C literature. I certainly do. Perhaps we were not expecting such a roundabout, literary style i..."

Re Innes popularity:
Based on GR's list of books and published dates there are lots of Appleby's and he was writing for 50 years.

I enjoyed the style, but am glad all my reading doesn't require that much work.


Susan | 5803 comments Mod
Sandy, I would totally agree with your statement. I don't always want to work so hard when reading, but I am sure it does my ageing brain good :)


message 22: by Jill (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jill (Dogbotsmum) | 750 comments I do enjoy the plots and I like Appleby, I also don't mind some waffle, but I thought there was just too much in this book. I don't remember the first book as having so much superfluous padding as this one.


Susan | 5803 comments Mod
I actually thought they were very similar in style. Maybe I am mis-remembering, but I thought there were quite a lot of similarities - although Appleby did not seem so 'alone' in the second book. That was probably a better idea, as he seemed fairly isolated in his debut.


Abigail Bok (Regency_Reader) | 340 comments I'm only a few chapters in, and there is certainly a lot of waffle! But my past experience with Innes/Stewart leads me to believe that essential clues (and, in the case of the theatrical stuff, parallels to the mystery plot) are embedded in the waffle, so I'm reading closely. Perhaps the author got a little too waffly in this one because the subject was his area of expertise.


Susan | 5803 comments Mod
Could be, Abigail. I certainly had to pay attention too.


Abigail Bok (Regency_Reader) | 340 comments I have finished the book, and here is my review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


Susan | 5803 comments Mod
Great review, Abigail :)


Abigail Bok (Regency_Reader) | 340 comments Thanks, Susan!


back to top