I am a great admirer of the detective fiction of Michael Innes and have written about it on here before. So when I was staying in the Sanctuary Bookshop B&B in Lyme Regis last week, I snapped this one up for £1 -- I'd never even heard of it before. It turns out to be slightly unusual in that it does not feature Appleby, Innes's clever, suave detective. The plot revolves around a rather unpleasant character, Mervyn Cheel. He is a small-time art critic, and a very small-time painter of 'pointilliste abstracts'. He is also a small-time con man, though he would be appalled to think of himself in that way, and he has rather nasty sexual habits which lead him to pinch women in crowds. Cheel has fallen on rather hard times after being found out for lying about the provenance of various paintings. The novel starts at a private view of the work of a young, and recently dead, artist, Sebastian Holme. To his amazement, however, Cheel recognises a heavily disguised Holme at the gallery, gazing at one of his own paintings. This leads him to make a cunning plan -- he manages to get Holme to repaint works that supposedly perished with him at the time of his own supposed death. For a while this plan is very successful and Cheel is happily driving a Rolls around London -- but events turn and things get very tricky. Like all Innes's writing this is clever, intelligent and sophisticated, and I was quite entertained by it. Cheel is a well-drawn character --since it is his point of view that is the focus of the novel, Innes does well in revealing his unpleasantness and self-deception to the reader while showing how he himself constantly believes he is in the right. Not among Innes's best work, perhaps, but definitely worth £1.