- Series: Gervase Fen
- Paperback: 232 pages
- Publisher: Bloomsbury Reader; Reissue edition (September 22, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1448216613
- ISBN-13: 978-1448216611
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 7.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 82 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #793,337 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Moving Toyshop (Gervase Fen) Paperback – September 22, 2016
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About the Author
Edmund Crispin (2 October 1921 - 15 September 1978) was the pseudonym of Robert Bruce Montgomery (usually credited as Bruce Montgomery), an English crime writer and composer. Montgomery wrote nine detective novels and two collections of short stories under the pseudonym Edmund Crispin (taken from a character in Michael Innes's Hamlet, Revenge!). The stories feature Oxford don Gervase Fen, who is a Professor of English at the university and a fellow of St Christopher's College, a fictional institution that Crispin locates next to St John's College. Fen is an eccentric, sometimes absent-minded, character reportedly based on the Oxford professor W. E. Moore. The whodunit novels have complex plots and fantastic, somewhat unbelievable solutions, including examples of the locked room mystery. They are written in a humorous, literary and sometimes farcical style and contain frequent references to English literature, poetry, and music. They are also among the few mystery novels to break the fourth wall occasionally and speak directly to the audience.
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Like his contemporaries Sayers, Christie, Marsh, etc., Crispin's mystery is set in an idealized pre-WWII world of England's upper/middle class and is "veddy, veddy British". Crispin's book is also literate in the extreme, which is hardly surprising considering that his detective, Gervase Fen, is the Professor of English and Literature at Oxford University, the protagonist in this story is a celebrated poet and the story takes place at Oxford. So unless you are very well versed in classic literature, there may be some references you miss but they won't ruin the fun.
And "fun" is the operative word here. While a lot of Golden Age mysteries have a sense of humor, "The Moving Toyshop" is very funny to the point of farce. The mystery itself is actually secondary to the humor. You will get a sense of what's to come before the book even begins. In place of the usual "all persons are fictional, any resemblance to actual persons etc" disclaimer, Crispin gives us:
"None but the most blindly credulous will imagine the characters and events in this story to be anything but fictitious. It is true that the ancient and noble city of Oxford is, of all the towns of England, the likeliest progenitor of unlikely events and persons. But there are limits. "
So, if you don't want your mysteries served with a strong dose of humor, "The Moving Toyshop" is not for you. But if you see the humor of the professor and poet passing the time with games like naming "Detestable Characters in Fiction" (Beatrice and Benedick, Lady Chatterly and the gamekeeper, etc), lines like "`Look,' he said. `It will be better if we both talk about the same subject at the same time. This isn't a Cheknov play." and a climax befitting the keystone cops, you will enjoy it.
If I have read any other Gervase Fen mysteries, I don't remember them. "Toyshop" was a great introduction and I look forward to reading more.
Well-written and interesting mystery. I like the way Edmund Cripsin writes--lots of action, lots of humor and great character sketches with minimum of words.
The plot is convoluted, involving a crime, in which not only does the body disappear but also the scene of the crime. The key characters are mostly in the Wodehouse tradition, professors, undergrads, police, eccentric automobiles, and chases. Little is intended to be taken seriously.
No doubt, not to everyone's taste, but worth the try. The Penguin edition cost me only shipping charges (plus one cent) and was quite readable.
Most recent customer reviews
This book may have been popular during the 1940's-50's when slapstick was the rage. It did not suit my taste in mysteries.Read more