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This was my first run-in with Philip Bird, but I am really pleased with his work on this book. He manages to differentiate the characters very well-- which isn't easy when the speaking characters are mostly male. I thought this was as close to a five star performance as makes no difference.
As for the story. This is the last book published by Edmund Crispin (aka Robert Bruce Montgomery). His popular detective, Oxford Don Professor Gervase Fen, is house sitting for a couple of friends traveling in Canada while writing a book on the post WW II modern novel. About eight weeks before the beginning of the story, a murder had been perpetuated against a most deserving victim. However, it was the events that occurred after the murder that led to the arrest and incarceration in an insane asylum of Hagbert, a local eccentric with a mania for work.
As usual Crispin populates his story with a host of amusingly looney characters. There's also some jokes that don't quite come through in the narration. For instance one character is named Thouless who is composer of music for movies-- he is currently working on music for a horror movie title Unalive. Crispin under his real name, Bruce Montgomery, composed music for movies including the first six "Carry On" movies. There's also a tortoise named Ellis with an underbite who needs his pansy petals premasticated; an overly amorous tom cat named Stripey; the Major who despite his years of service in the Cavalry disliked horses, mainly because he had never been thrown; and assorted other local characters including Titty and Tatty (Titania and Tatiania) a pair of elderly sisters who had one deaf aid between them and a devotion to what they fondly imagined was a Botticelli painting of the Assumption of the Virgin.
So part of the time the book is a mystery and part of the time it is a farce. And I have to believe that the ridiculously drawn out denouement was intentional. There's also sly literary references everywhere.
Recommended highly for those who are willing to accept a satire of the mystery genre and delight in ferreting out Crispin's donnish humor (or humour, I guess I should say).
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
“There is humour which for the cheerful friends we got, and for the thinking parties there is a plot”
Taking some time in Devon, Fen meets up with the Vicar and the Major at a time when a few peculiar murders are done. A journalist joins the trio and together they, like everyone elce in town, talk about who might have 'done it'..
In amongst the Church Fete, Anti Hunting protests,. misbehaving power lines, a gift of a pigs head to make brawn and promiscuous people, the plot unfolds.
Scatterings of Donish quotes from often obscure authors and creative observations are here in plenty. ( 'as insubstantial as ectoplasm at a séance').
Tongue in cheek as usual, this is a delightful listen so well narrated by Phillip Bird.
The following is the order of writing/publishing (not all available yet from Audible)
The Case Of the Gilded Fly..(1944)
The Moving Toyshop
Love Lies Bleeding
Buried for Pleasure
The Long Divorce
Beware of the Trains
The Glimpses of the Moon (1977)
Fen Country (posthumously)
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
This is one of the funniest, zaniest detective stories I know, beautifully written in dead-pan style. The plot is weirdly wonderful but the characters and the events are the books real joy. This title is one I turn to when I am feeling ill and depressed.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
Any additional comments?
I can hardly believe that I have not read or listened to any Fen mysteries before now. What a treasury of perfect, gentle and humorous, English detective stories unsullied by sex and unnecessary gore. I am now well on the way to acquiring all available audiobooks in this series. Beautifully read by Philip Bird.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful