Friday, April 21, 2017

Michael Innes’ Death at the President’s Lodging (1935) is a cozy locked room mystery.
The story involves three “locked rooms.” Someone kills the president of St. Anthony’s College in his locked apartment in a locked orchard compound in the walled and locked college.

The doors to all the locked areas have the same key. Ten keys exist, nine accounted for. The president changed all the locks the day before.

Scotland Yard Inspector John Appleby identifies seven suspects (accounting for the alternative title of the book, Seven Suspects).

Most of the suspects lie, either to protect themselves or to try to throw suspicion on another colleague. (So much for collegiality at St. Anthony’s.)

To say that Death at the President’s Lodging is complex makes it sound too simple.

Innes writes the book in a humorous, but academic, style. One short sample sentence--“I would remind you, Mr. Appleby, that the horror of these events was exacerbated by the inspissated gloom in which they were enveloped.” And Innes’ descriptions are longer and more complex.

So Death at the President’s Lodging is a particular kind of book. If you like complex, “where were the suspects at 9:30 p.m. and 22 and one-half seconds”-type cozy, clue-driven stories, you should love this book.

I learned about this author from the listing of another of his books in Patricia Abbott’s weekly “Friday’s Forgotten Books” listing. I find a lot of interesting books in the “Friday’s Forgotten Books” weekly lists. 

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