#524: Spoiler Warning – Coming in July: The Moving Toyshop (1946) by Edmund Crispin

Moving Toyshops 1

So, with the most recent Spoiler Warning on Tantei Gakuen Q/Detective School Q done, here’s news of the next one…

Keeping with the pro-EU theme of collaborating with a Dutchman, I’m delighted to announce a Swede will be joining me for this one: Christian, who blogs with a primary focus on the short story in Golden Age detection at Mysteries, Short and Sweet, and I will be re-reading and discussing Edmund Crispin’s most famous work The Moving Toyshop (1946) in July — and you’re invited!

This was the third novel to feature Crispin’s irrepressible Oxford don sleuth Gervase Fen, and was one of my earliest forays into non-Christie GAD, so it’s a book I’m especially excited to revisit and see how time has ravaged it, er, how it holds up after all these years.  If you don’t know it, here’s a brief synopsis from the most recent edition:

Richard Cadogan, poet and would-be bon vivant, arrives for what he thinks will be a relaxing holiday in the city of dreaming spires. Late one night, however, he discovers the dead body of an elderly woman lying in a toyshop and is coshed on the head. When he comes to, he finds that the toyshop has disappeared and been replaced with a grocery store. The police are understandably skeptical of this tale but Richard’s former schoolmate, Gervase Fen (Oxford professor and amateur detective), knows that truth is stranger than fiction (in fiction, at least). Soon the intrepid duo are careening around town in hot pursuit of clues but just when they think they understand what has happened, the disappearing-toyshop mystery takes a sharp turn…

Erudite, eccentric and entirely delightful – Before Morse, Oxford’s murders were solved by Gervase Fen, the most unpredictable detective in classic crime fiction.

The whole point of these Spoiler Warnings, remember, is to be able to completely remove the gloves and talk about all aspects without anyone needing to hold back, get a bit hand-wavey where details are concerned, or worry about anyone reading it complaining about sudden spoilers.  So, get reading, make some notes, and Christian and I shall see you in July for the showdown.

Er, not that we’re planning a showdown.  But “we’ll see you in July for a polite and pleasant conversation” doesn’t seem quite so exciting, does it?  We shall have to work up some WWE-style beef in the meantime…though the Swedish make great oat milk, which in turn makes it very difficult to want to find something to hold against them as a nation.

[I should point out, in these suspicious times, that nobody at that company has yet had the brainwave of using classic detective fiction book blogs to advertise their oat milk product, and so that recommendation is made entirely because I like that product and not because I have any remuneration coming my way; though, with plugs that seamless, maybe I should start a career as an Instagram ‘influencer’…]

5 thoughts on “#524: Spoiler Warning – Coming in July: The Moving Toyshop (1946) by Edmund Crispin

  1. This is a good choice for a spoiler warning. The most interesting details of the crime are fleshed out so late in the book that you can’t really discuss it in any detail without introducing some element of spoilers.


  2. This was the most recent Crispin I read, which I quite enjoyed. The humour, as always with Crispin, was especially palatable. 🤩 But he seems to like a kill off a certain type of character – both in “Love Lies Bleeding” and in “Moving Toy Shop” – which I find upsetting. 😞

    PS I dropped you a couple of emails, but they kept bouncing. Hoping the last one got through!


  3. I will be reading this in its Swedish translation, so it’ll be interesting to see if there’s anything that differs between the original English edition and the Swedish one. I know that Agatha Christie in some circumstances had her novels shortened.


    • This could be interesting on account of the literary allusions made in the plot — I wonder if they were Swedified in translation… 🤔 Time will tell.


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