Saturday, December 28, 2019

103. The Case of the Gilded Fly by Edmund Crispin

It's actually the Moving Toyshop that I have had on my list for quite some time, however after months of fruitless searching, I will take any Edmund Crispin and that is what I did.  I found that at Half-Price Books in Berkeley.  It took me a long time to read and I was much distracted, only partly because of the book itself.  It is the holiday season and I was at the family seat, surrounded by rambunctious children, interrupting relatives and tempting sweets.  The book itself, though, was not a natural page-turner.  It starts out great, with a passage about how annoying the ending of the train trip from London to Oxford is.  In doing so, it also lays out all the players who will be participating in the murder and in the play that they have all come up to Oxford to perform.

It actually takes a while for the murder to happen.  We spend a lot of time with the characters and learn more about their relationships and tensions, mostly centered around a sexy but not so beautiful secondary actress named Ysuet whom everybody hates.  We also meet Gervase Fen, professor of classics at Oxford and amateur detective.  He is a funny character, oblivious and unthinkingly ill-mannered, but also brilliant and caring.  Once Ysuet is murdered, I started to lose steam.  It is a true whodunnit where I guess we are supposed to be able to deduce it as a reader (this is what Gervase Fen keeps telling all the other characters, as he has figured it out right from the beginning but for various reasons won't tell), but I found it all kind of tiring.  The investigation seems to go on and on and I just wanted to find out who did it.  There were two other weird things that kind of bothered me as well: 1) the story takes place in 1940 and none of the males are in the war.  Was this a function of class?  2) the way people get married at the drop of a hat here.  They start going out and then one of them says they want to get married and the other agrees and it is all done in a weirdly casual way.  I know part of it is being droll and British but when it is 4 sets of characters, it all seemed a but unreal.

I will still keep the Moving Toyshop on my list but not sure about looking too hard for any Edmund Crispin in the future.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Perfect book to read after ten weeks of jury duty. Had Google and the dictionary smoking after looking up so many words and landmarks. I, too, won't seek him out but if I find him used I will read him again. He's a great writer.