The Moving Toyshop

The Moving Toyshop

by Edmund Crispin

Gervase Fen investigates an Oxford toy shop replaced overnight by a grocery store. Poetic Richard Cadogan found the apparently strangled body of an old woman upstairs, but she vanishes as well.

  • Series: Gervase Fen
  • Language: English
  • Category: Mystery
  • Rating: 3.84
  • Pages: 208
  • Publish Date: July 5th 1989 by Penguin Books
  • Isbn10: 0140088172
  • Isbn13: 9780140088175

What People Think about "The Moving Toyshop"

If you like vintage British mysteries and vintage British silliness, The Moving Toyshop (1946) is a book for you. Like most vintage mysteries, it is cleverly plotted, yet the puzzle at the core of Toyshop is ridiculous, its dialogue (though witty and funny) improbable, and its resolution absurd. Cadogan seeks out eccentric Oxford Don Gervase Fen, amateur detective and professor of English, and together they set out to solve the mystery of the moving toyshop.

This is a golden era classic comic crime novel set in 1938 Oxford from the series featuring Gervase Fen, an Oxford professor, who has a penchant for investigating the strange and the odd. Poet Richard Cadogan is on vacation in Oxford, and is walking around at night when he spots a toy shop with an open door. There is now no toy shop and no dead body.

Both the style of writing and the main character of Gervase Fen reminded me of Douglas Adams and specifically Dirk Gently in Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, the influence is quite obvious I think. "The Blood on the Mortarboard, Fen Strikes Back" said Fen "What's that you're saying?" gurgled Cadogan "My dear fellow, I was making up titles for Crispin" Is just one of a series of moments where the characters "break the fourth wall" of the narrative and/or draw attention to the tools of writing a mystery novel. An interesting aspect of this title is the, almost, backgrounding of the detective Gervase Fen, star of the Edmund Crispin series of whodunnit novels.

This is very much a light hearted, Golden Age mystery, with liberal literary quotes and references to the author - at one point Fen is making up possible book titles for 'Crispin' for example. Cadogan goes to his old friend Gervase Fen for help, who happily helps him in a madcap investigation concerning eccentric wealthy ladies, legacies, a sinister lawyer and lots of chasing various people around Cambridge.

In 2006, P.D. James picked it as one of her five most riveting crime novels but I read one of his novels and did not find any trace of Crispin's ingenuity. They say that if you want to develop your skill as a writer in weaving plots, go for mystery-thrillers like those of Agatha Christie. In both instances, I had no idea, even a remotest one, who could be the culprit but in this case by Crispin, the mystery of the lost toy shop (replaced by a grocery), was even more intriguing that its whodunnit.

The rest of the college is away at lunch, and with no one to rescue them, they must amuse themselves with a game called "Unreadable Books." 'All right. Mostly, it's just pure entertainment, a rambustious farce so well larded with literary allusions and aspersions that you will spend more time wondering about "Who said that?" than about "Who done it?" If you read and enjoyed Milne's Red House Mystery for it's wit and occasional silliness, then by all means pick up this seriously comic crime classic.

This was a great intro into the world of Fen. I had never read any of Edmund Crispin book's before.

It has taken me many years to begin to undo the habits authors like Edmund Crispin set me into. So when Edmund Crispin trots out words like "steatopygic" or "suilline", I'm content (even if I have to look them up). And when Fen uses variations on the White Rabbit's exclamations, I sigh and know that yes, Crispin is in part to blame for the fact that I don't speak or write like anyone else I know. "' you,' Mr Sharman said viciously." Maybe books like this are one reason I love a pretty simile. And I don't read like anyone else I know, not in "real life" at least.

El excéntrico Gervase Fen es todo un hallazgo: profesor de literatura inglesa en el ficticio St. Christophers College de Oxford, y detective aficionado, se mueve en el terreno del humor británico más clásico, delirante por momentos, pero siempre divertido y entretenido.

His music was composed using his real name, Bruce Montgomery. N.B. A biography by David Whittle, Bruce Montgomery/Edmund Crispin: A Life in Music and Books (ISBN 10: 0754634434) was published in June 2007.