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Crispin, Edmund

fen toyshop oxford gervase

(British, 1921–78)

Crispin was the pseudonym of Bruce Montgomery, a composer of film and orchestral music. He wrote his first crime novel, featuring the eccentric Oxford don Gervase Fen, while still an undergraduate at the university. His books fizz with wit and energy, revealing Crispin's verbal flair and detestation of pomposity. Begin with The Moving Toyshop (1946), an excursion of high-spirited lunacy centring on the discovery of a strangled corpse in an unlocked toyshop at midnight. When poet Richard Cadogan takes his friend Gervase Fen, Oxford Professor of Poetry, back to the scene of the crime, the toyshop has disappeared. It's the starting-point for a remarkably well-plotted mystery.

Love Lies Bleeding (1948) draws on the works of Shakespeare to romp through the murders of two schoolmasters and the disappearance of a girl pupil from another nearby school. In Buried for Pleasure (1948), Fen becomes the unlikeliest of parliamentary candidates and finds himself embroiled in a poisoning case.

Simon Brett, Colin Watson.

See CRIME  VM

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