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I frequent enough book sales to have often seen copies of Michael Innes's Inspector Appleby mysteries lying around. But I'd never really picked one up and looked it over until this one, and what caught my attention was the anti-human epigraph from which the title is derived:
You yourself, don't you find it a beautiful clean thought, a world empty of people, just uninterrupted grass, and a hare sitting up?
-D.H. Lawrence, Women in Love

That sentiment is shared by the eccentric villain in the book and it's up to Appleby to track down the disappeared bacteriologist who is the key to the plan.

As noted in the Kirjasto entry on Innes, he often modeled his books after John Buchan thrillers rather than closed manor mysteries and Appleby is very Richard Hannay here, even ending up at one point on one of the least populated islands in Britain. The chase is well-enough done to hold the reader's attention, but it's the portrait of a mad Lord, who loves birds as much as he hates people, that really distinguishes the book. It's a sharp satire of Lovelockian-deep-environmentalism years ahead of its time, though Innes also indicts the other sort of warped love, the mutual assured destruction dreams of Dr. Strangelove. As one of the characters says, it's impressive "that a madman and his fantasies should be so perfectly symbolical of the whole drive of civilization today."


(Reviewed:)

Grade: (B+)

  

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Mystery
Michael Innes Links:

    -WIKIPEDIA: J. I. M. Stewart
    -FILMOGRAPHY: Michael Innes (Imdb)
    -GOOGLE BOOK: Hare Sitting Up
    -OBIT: J. I. M. Stewart, 49; Wrote Mysteries As Michael Innes (NY Times, November 16, 1994)
    -ANNOTATED BOOK LIST: Michael Innes (John Innes Mackintosh Stewart) (Mystery List)
    -BIO: Michael Innes (1906-1994) (kirjasto)
    -INFO: John Appleby (Clerical Detectives)
    -INFO: Michael Innes (Stop You're Killing Me)
    -REVIEW: of APPLEBY AND HONEYBATH. By Michael Innes (Anatole Broyard, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of SHEIKS AND ADDERS. By Michael Innes (Anatole Broyard, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of APPLEBY AND THE OSPREYS. By Michael Innes (John Gross, NY Times)

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