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Download Carson's Conspiracy (Penguin Crime Monthly) epub

by Michael Innes

Download Carson's Conspiracy (Penguin Crime Monthly) epub
ISBN: 0140084444
ISBN13: 978-0140084443
Category: Literature
Subcategory: Contemporary
Author: Michael Innes
Language: English
Publisher: Penguin Books (May 6, 1986)
Pages: 192 pages
ePUB size: 1608 kb
FB2 size: 1255 kb
Rating: 4.7
Votes: 172
Other Formats: docx lit rtf mbr

Sir John Appleby, now retired, lives with his wife Judith at Long Dream Manor, the Raven family home, near the station called Appleby's End, where the Applebys first met nearly 40 years earlier. Lunching with a couple new to the neighborhood, the Applebys are unaware that the Carsons' adult son living in Florida, of whom their hostess Cynthia speaks so fondly, is merely a figment of her imagination, or that their host, prosperous businessman Carl, is making secret plans to disappear, taking all his money with him, as well as some that isn't. Carl Carson himself doesn't know, until his wife tells him after the Applebys have left, that their guest was once the head of Scotland Yard. He isn't worried though; he has the perfect plan.

Ever since the Carsons' two daughters were killed together in a motor accident, Cynthia has consoled herself with thoughts of an imaginary son, living so far away that no one ever expects to meet him. In the past Carl has found it more convenient to humor her in the delusion than to confront her. Now he finds it convenient, believing her not sufficiently sane to be trusted, to exclude her from his plans altogether. Carl's idea is to stage a fake kidnapping of the nonexistent son as a pretext for converting all his assets into cash (for the ransom payment) which he can pack in a suitcase and take with him -- alone and under a false name -- on a plane to some faraway country.

Carl Carson is a complex character, and we get to know him rather well. He's a self-made man who, unlike his father, has stayed out of jail and prospered while operating near the margins of the law, on one side or the other. He's ambitious, intelligent, observant, and imaginative, actually enjoying the creative effort required to perfect his scheme. He sees similarities between this process and the writing of a detective novel. His fiction, however, must also intersect with reality at several points, which is where the difficulties arise. Even Appleby finds Carson a surprisingly interesting specimen, but soon his policeman's instincts lead him to suspect his neighbor might be up to something.

It's 1984, 48 years since John Appleby solved his first case for Scotland Yard, at least the first one recorded for posterity. Even then he wasn't an absolute beginner. People are committing crimes in 1984 that would have been unthinkable in 1936; for a policeman there's always a new challenge. Appleby, in his retirement, is writing a book on local history, poring pleasantly over musty church records with congenial vicars, and taking more interest in the garden, but will it ever be possible for him to leave his own past behind him? Does he even want to? (Good scenes with Judith, as well as Hoobin, longtime Dream gardener and 3 other gardeners.)
"Carson's Conspiracy" (1984) is one of the slenderest Sir John Appleby mystery novels, and was published in Michael Innes's 78th year. The only novel from this prolific author to follow it was "Appleby and the Ospreys" (1986).

Sir John, retired Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police (Scotland Yard) no longer strays very far from home. He tells his friend, the local Chief Constable, that he is more of a Mycroft than a Sherlock now. However, he still occasionally lunches with the neighbors, and when this novel opens, Sir John and his wife are meeting their new neighbors over a slightly pretentious lunch of scallops and champagne.

Carl Carson, the "newish and rather unattractive" neighbor spends lunch fretting over whether his wife will do or say the wrong thing. He is a nouveau riche financier with some shady dealings in the City, and mistakes Appleby for someone "who had been high up in the Inland Revenue." His wife, Cynthia refers to Appleby as the "Commissionaire."

Really, the snobbery and counter-snobbery of the new versus the old gentry are what make this novel sparkle. In his later Appleby novels, Innes no longer relied as heavily on character eccentricities, surreal settings, or dense plotting. Instead, his readers scud merrily downstream on waves of witty, ironic dialogue, literary allusiveness, and an undertow of murderous intent.

The plot is transparent. If nothing else, the title gives it away and the first narrator is Carson, himself. His wife seems to have gone seriously round the bend and is chatting up their new neighbors with the exploits of an imaginary son. Carson, who sees serious financial problems looming dead ahead, decides to kidnap his nonexistent son, who is supposedly returning from America, convert his capital into ransom money, then disappear as another victim of the kidnapping plot---with the loot, of course.

His problems begin, although he is not aware of them at first, when Carson has to find someone to pose as his imaginary son. Every one is taken in by the conspiracy, including the Applebys, until a sudden, violent twist at the very end of the book.

This is a quick, enjoyable read, and don't believe Sir John when he tells the Chief Constable that "Mycroft has retired." He still has one novel to go, and his sharp-edged wit and elegant sleuthing will live on for a long while in the hearts of his readers.