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The Moving Toyshop (Classic Crime) by Edmund…

The Moving Toyshop (Classic Crime) (original 1946; edition 1988)

by Edmund Crispin

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1,040438,110 (3.83)122
Title:The Moving Toyshop (Classic Crime)
Authors:Edmund Crispin
Info:Penguin Books Ltd (1988), Edition: New edition, Paperback, 208 pages
Collections:Your library, Paper copy on a shelf, Fiction
Tags:@Second-hand, Crime/Mystery, 2009, Fiction, Golden Age

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The Moving Toyshop by Edmund Crispin (1946)

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Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
This was the first of Crispin's Fen novels that I read, about eight years ago. I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it either. I do like Golden Age crime novels, and I thought there was enough there to give his other books a try - and when I read them, I liked them more than I liked this one.

It's a good job I didn't try that exercise now, because re-reading it this week was painful. I don't know whether another eight years of reading Golden Age mysteries has refined my sensibilities, or whether this caught me on a bad week, but I hated it this time round. I found it far too full of itself, loathed the way that the fourth wall was broken, found Fen unbearable as a character, and thought the plot was just ludicrous.

And now I'm not sure whether I want to re-read the others in the series again: I really liked several of them the first time around, and I fear that the combination of Fen, in-jokes and implausibility might mean I wouldn't like them as much now either. It might be better to keep the good memories. ( )
  catherinestead | May 19, 2017 |
For the Pratchett fans, imagine the wizards investigating a murder, and you're pretty much there. To the extent that I imagine Windle Poons in place of Professor Wilkie.

That is the great joy of the books, it's frantically silly done well, with moments of real tension. The resolution of the mystery is a bit throwaway, which is the book's main weakness. It's great fun, but not a particularly solid plot. ( )
  redfiona | Apr 24, 2017 |
It has taken me many years to begin to undo the habits authors like Edmund Crispin set me into. My motto has been for many years that of The West Wing's Jed Bartlett: never say in one word what you can say in one hundred. I also follow Dead Poets Society's Mr. Keating's advice to avoid common phrasing. So when Edmund Crispin trots out words like "steatopygic" or "suilline", I'm content (even if I have to look them up). And when someone not only explained, but "He explained at great length. He explained with a sense of righteous indignation and frustration of spirit" – well, that's a kindred spirit, that is. And when Fen uses variations on the White Rabbit's exclamations, I sigh and know that yes, Crispin is in part to blame for the fact that I don't speak – or write – like anyone else I know. It takes great concentration to write an email shorter than a thousand words (or in one draft).

Maybe books like this are one reason I didn't swear for a good portion of my life (at least until I started driving regularly). "'– you,' Mr Sharman said viciously."

Maybe books like this are one reason I love a pretty simile. I love an "open window where the porter leaned, like a princess enchanted within some medieval fortalice". And "Wordsworth resembled a horse with powerful convictions".

And I don't read like anyone else I know, not in "real life" at least. That's why blogs and book-centric sites are so valuable – I know there are people out there whose standards are – well, Edmund Crispin high and not Stephanie Meyer high.

"'Sorry. It was a quotation from Pope.'
"'I don't care who it was a quotation from. It's really rather rude to quote when you know I shan't understand. Like talking about someone in a language they don't know.'"
- I wonder if that's a backhanded slap at Dorothy L. Sayers and Lord Peter's habit of pulling out mass tonnages of quotes, often in random languages. In the only other Crispin I've read in recent years, The Case of the Gilded Fly, there was a remark I very definitely took as such. (I wonder if the "speaking disrespectfully of the immortal Jane" was indicative of the author's real feelings.

It felt very much like the moving toyshop of the title was merely a vehicle (so to speak) for Fen to sail through and show off his effortless brilliance. And for various characters to break the third wall with disconcertingly hilarious references to the author, the publisher, and the fact that they're not, technically, real persons. ("'Let's go left,' Cadogan suggested. 'After all, Gollancz is publishing this book.'" That would have flown about fourteen miles over my head when I originally read this, lo those many years ago.) The flippancy flows fast and glittery – and then when you least expect it come a deeper stretch that achieve deadly seriousness. "Euthanasia, Cadogan thought: they all regard it as that, and not as wilful slaughter, not as the violent cutting-off of an irreplaceable compact of passion and desire and affection and will; not as a thrust into unimagined and illimitable darkness."

'Sauve qui peut', mes amis – save yourself if you can. If you want to sound like everyone else, it's probably best not to steep yourself in clever, eccentric, carelessly witty British Golden Age mysteries. Oh, my ears and whiskers, it's not easy fending off the philistine.

The usual disclaimer: I received this book via Netgalley for review. ( )
1 vote Stewartry | Mar 27, 2017 |
A poet decides to look for some inspiration and adventure in Oxford. He finds it in spades, spending the next two days romping around the town and colleges with his friend, Gervase Fen, a Professor with a bent towards detection, trying to solve a very puzzling murder.

The actual puzzle/mystery was quite good! I had not solved it, and I believe I was given a fair chance by the author. The story was fun to read. It would make a great comical chase movie. There were some surprises as far as the writing goes as well.

It was published in 1946. The characters break the Fourth Wall several times within, the sleuth muttering to himself whilst tied up in a closet, thinking up names for [[Crispin]] for his next books, all involving said sleuth, or mentioning that since Gollancz is the publisher, you can expect certain things of the story. What startled me the most though, was a character yelling "F- You!" That was the way it was spelled in the book, but even so, I don't recall ever reading a book from that era which even referred to the word.

All in all, a fun read, if a bit precious at times. ( )
  MrsLee | Jan 2, 2017 |
I'd like to read this again. ( )
  laurenbufferd | Nov 14, 2016 |
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Not all the gay pageants that breathe
Can with a dead body compare.
Charles Wesley, On the Sight of a Corpse
Philip Larkin
in friendship and esteem
First words
Richard Cadogan raised his revolver, took careful aim and pulled the trigger.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140088172, Paperback)

It is late at night when poet Cadogan stumbles on the dead body of an old lady in an Oxford toyshop. The following morning, the toyshop has vanished and in its place is a grocery store. Nobody, not even the police, seem surprised.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:57 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

'The Moving Toyshop' is a quirky and appealing locked room mystery for all fans of classic crime. Originally published: London: Gollancz, 1946.

(summary from another edition)

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