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Book Note: Edmund Crispin, The Moving Toyshop

I read this book about 17-Nov-2001. This is the first time I've read this book. The book is copyright 1946. This note was last modified Saturday, 03-May-2014 08:24:04 PDT.

This is book 3 of the "Gervase Fen" series.

This note contains spoilers for the book.


Another of the Gervase Fen mysteries. This one starts with one of the neatest setups I've ever seen, and by half way through has proceeded to almost tell us exactly who set it up, how, and why. Not, of course, in ways that can usefully be taken to the police.

This is set in a 1938 England where, to remind modern readers of how fast things change, handguns are fairly commonly available. Scholars and poets keep them around, just in case. Of course, even then, people made mistakes; in this case the author, in having a silenced revolver (the problem with a silenced revolver is that so much of the noise comes out the cylinder gap that the silly thing on the front doesn't make much difference).

(A correspondent points out that the Nagant revolver could be silenced, and even were sometimes. They have a complex mechanism where the cylinder moves forwards after rotating, to eliminate the cylinder gap. Their complexity made them expensive to produce, and the trigger pull not especially nice, and they've been long out of production. However, they're not unreasonable for the period. I still think a "silenced revolver" needs explanation, at least.)

It's a nice setup; we learn generally what's gone on by the middle, but it really takes the rest of the book to settle all the details and prove them.

Crispin clearly isn't serious in some senses. There are 4th wall violations at various times, for fun.

Pet peeve: Gervase Fen has picked up, from somehwere, the expression "Oh my paws", and uses it far too often.

On the other hand, the undergraduate at another table, doggedly explaining socialism to his companion, and being asked all the fatal questions, feels darned modern.

Pamela says this is his best book, and I agree so far. I'll read some more, too—but not all at once. I seem to enjoy these more spaced out a little.

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David Dyer-Bennet