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’…]