There Came Both Mist And Snow by Michael Innes

Title: There Came Both Mist And Snow
Author: Michael Innes
Published in 1940

Goodreads Summary: It’s coming on Christmas, and Arthur Ferryman is headed to his ancestral home, Belrive Priory. Looking forward to a peaceful holiday, Arthur’s serenity is quickly interrupted by a horde of his cousins brandishing revolvers. Shooting, it seems, is their hobby du jour.

This ancient estate has remained unchanged for centuries. As the area is invaded by neon signs, textile factories, and smells from the brewery, Belrive Priory has timelessly stood its ground. But when the family learns that their cousin Basil intends to sell the estate, fault lines begin to appear.

Furtive glances, cryptic rumours, and clandestine meetings abound. A secret family quarrel and anticipation of the mysterious Mr X’s arrival keep everyone on their toes, and it seems none of the trigger-happy relations can be trusted when one of the party is found shot.

With Arthur harbouring secrets and a few grudges of his own, will Inspector Appleby be able to crack this case before any further ‘accidents’ transpire or will the shooter finally hit his mark?

Every year after Thanksgiving, I engage in a little festive cheer by reading a golden age Christmas mystery or two. Sometimes they are rereads – for example, I nearly always reread Hercule Poirot’s Christmas and I often reread Envious Casca (republished as A Christmas Party) by Georgette Heyer. Both of them will be getting rereads this year.

However, in this glorious time of ebooks, when small publishers everywhere deliver previously out-of-print mysteries to readers, I can always find a few that are new to me. I’ve been meaning to read this one for a few years now – it’s technically book 6 in the Sir John Appleby series. I feel no need to read golden age mystery series in order, however, so this was the first that I have read.

And, hoooboy, was this one a disappointment. To start with, there is precious little Christmas happening here. Yes, the book ostensibly takes place in the context of a Christmas house party, but it could honestly have been set any time. It just wasn’t Christmassy.

Then we move onto the characters, who were pretty universally unlikeable, the narrator most of all. A major mystery – to me at least – was why hadn’t anyone murdered him?

And then, the solution. It felt like the author painted himself into a corner, had to get himself out of it, so he came up with the most cockamamie, silly, and frankly incredible explanation he could come up with to explain what happened. Erm. Nope.

So, bottom line, this one was a total bust for me. Not sure if I will give Innes another chance to impress, or just cut my losses and move on to – hopefully – better books.

7 thoughts on “There Came Both Mist And Snow by Michael Innes

  1. I’ve just read this too! I’m working through the Innes catalogue and find them extremely variable. I really enjoyed Hamlet, Revenge!, The Secret Vanguard (which is more of a wartime spy thriller) and Stop Press, but didn’t enjoy Lament For A Maker or There Came Both Mist and Snow at all.

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    • Have you read Death at the President’s Lodging? That’s the one that seems to make all of the lists. I’m glad to see that there are some you’ve enjoyed, and if I decide to give Innes another chance, I’ll try one of the ones you liked!

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  2. I have – it’s not one of my favourites but it’s ok. I find some of them just stray a bit *too* far into eccentricity for me – I’d include in that both Appleby’s End (which I’m currently reading) and The Weight of the Evidence (which I got tired of half way through). The latter is another university-set one. They’re all eccentric but for me, Stop Press is the most quotable so far, and The Secret Vanguard the most pacy. However denouements are not really his strong point!

    By the way, sorry if you got three versions of my post – I’ve been having a bit of trouble with WordPress…

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