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The Moving Toyshop [Kindle Edition]

Edmund Crispin
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)

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Book Description


As inventive as Agatha Christie, as hilarious as P.G. Wodehouse – discover the delightful detective stories of Edmund Crispin. Crime fiction at its quirkiest and best.

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.

Product Description


"A clever, funny and rightly famous story set in Oxford 30 years before Morse started pounding the beat" (The Times, 100 Best Crime Novels of the Twentieth Century)

"The characters were so engaging and the writing so mischievous, that I thoroughly enjoyed it" (Miles Kington Independent)

"Hilarious adventures" (Washington Post)

"One of the undiscovered treasures of British crime fiction: Crispin's storytelling is intelligent, humane, surprising and rattling good fun" (A.L. Kennedy)

"A classic crime novel with a surreal streak… It's a clever, energetic romp, written with wit" (Val McDermid The Week)

Book Description


As inventive as Agatha Christie, as hilarious as P.G. Wodehouse - discover the delightful detective stories of Edmund Crispin. Crime fiction at its quirkiest and best.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 373 KB
  • Print Length: 210 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0140088172
  • Publisher: Vintage Digital (31 Jan. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 009950622X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099506225
  • ASIN: B006X0M3JC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #218,630 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Chronicles of Crispin Vol.3 28 May 2012
By Kenneth F. Mcara VINE VOICE
Strangling, kidnapping, shooting, subterfuge, near-drowning, drunkenness, literary clues, foul-mouthed old ladies, chases in and around the streets of Oxford, not to mention mass male nudity... This can only be one of Edmund Crispin's 'Gervase Fen' mysteries.

In the third of the series, Edmund Crispin, AKA Bruce Montgomery, is really hitting his stride, despite being barely 25 years old when 'The Moving Toyshop' was published.

The book retains all of the quirkiness of the previous 2 novels in the series, The Case of the Gilded Fly and Holy Disorders, featuring weird and wonderful characters and situations, including a Cockney lorry driver who's been reading DH Lawrence, a jaded poet in search of a more exciting life (which he gets) and of course Fen himself, who is now driving a battered red sports car which seems to have a mind of its own. Largely gone, compared to the previous two novels, are the romantic interludes between characters who have been thrown together, and the book is none the worse for that.

Some suspension of disbelief is required, as other reviewers have noted, but it's worth it just to come along for the entertaining ride that Crispin has concocted. There are a number of amusing chase sequences, and the map provided at the front of the book is helpful to follow the action. At points, large numbers of students are dragooned into helping through "vague promises of excitement accompanied by more definite promises of drink".
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Witty and diverting - an eccentric minor classic 21 Jun. 2001
The Moving Toyshop was published in 1945, but is set in 1938. This makes for an interesting book in that it straddles two eras of crime fiction. It combines elements of the pre-war classic English detective story (whimsicality, literary allusion, a range of satisfyingly eccentric supporting characters) with hints of the sadistic violence of American pulp fiction. Whimsicality wins by a mile however, and Edmund Crispin's authorial voice and talent for characterization are quirky and appealing. Crucially he also understands the value of brevity.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An amusing, light-hearted mystery story. 11 April 2011
A body in a toyshop that isn't there, an investigation by a poet and an Oxford don, clues based on limericks, with diversions for car chases, punting and discussions of unreadable books - all are included in this fun little novella.

Not one for those interested in gritty crime stories or for getting bogged down in plausibility, this will appeal to those with a sense of humour, an affection for the Golden Age detective stories and, perhaps, a faintly literary bent.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Moving Toyshop 4 Aug. 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is the third Gervase Fen mystery, following on from The Case of the Gilded Fly and Holy Orders, and is generally considered the best of the series. This is very much a light hearted, Golden Age mystery, with liberal literary quotes and references to the author - at one point Fen is making up possible book titles for 'Crispin' for example. It is set in 1938, but was written in 1945 and contains a magical and unreal storyline which does require a certain amount of 'joining in' with the sense of the impossible and madcap qualities of the novel.

The story begins with poet Richard Cadogan, a poet, who goes to Oxford for a holiday. However, with the last train halting at Didcot, he hitches a lift and then begins to walk. On the way he comes across an open toyshop and, on investigating, finds the body of a murdered woman upstairs. Of course, he contacts the police, who go back with him in the morning, only to find there is no toyshop and no body. Cadogan goes to his old friend Gervase Fen for help, who happily helps him in a madcap investigation concerning eccentric wealthy ladies, legacies, a sinister lawyer and lots of chasing various people around Cambridge. Of course, there is a pretty girl to protect and, also of course, Fen is impatient that nobody else seems to have worked out who committed the crime and wraps the mystery up prettily by the end of the book. Great fun and a good example of the authors work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable nonsense 22 Jan. 2015
This is a very amusing book in which the crime/detective story is really just a vehicle for amusing writing and humorous capers. There is a crime, certainly, and the book's protagonists solve it in the end, but it is chiefly an entertainment with that arch, self-conscious Oxford wit at its centre and the plot merely something to hang it on.

And that's just fine with me. Edmund Crispin writes with genuine wit and often with humour, too. He creates just-believable characters and puts them in a wholly implausible story involving dead heiresses, bizarre wills, car chases, eccentric name it. It is terrific fun, especially if you largely ignore the plot. Crispin does go to some lengths to set up a mystery which depends upon who was in exactly which room when, but to be honest it didn't matter that much to me. The style and characters are what make this book, and I enjoyed both hugely. One does need to make considerable allowances for attitudes of the time - especially toward women, who are generally insulted or patronised - but the book is a period piece and is very enjoyable on that basis.

The Author's Note before the Contents Page gives a good flavour of Crispin's style:
"None but the most blindly credulous will imagine the characters and events in this story to be anything but fictitious. It is true that the ancient and noble city of Oxford is, of all the towns of England, the likeliest progenitor of unlikely events and persons. But there are limits."

If you like that, you will like the book, and I can recommend it as a very enjoyable piece of nonsense.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
An enjoyable read
Published 2 months ago by Lyn
5.0 out of 5 stars Crime-solving is lots of fun
I found out about Edmund Crispin through a reference to the Swan Song in a pub in Oxford. So I went and bought some of his books and the Moving Toyshop is the first one I have... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Thomas Koetzsch
5.0 out of 5 stars Tremendous Fun
If you enjoy stories based between the wars ,filled with mad characters ,mayhem and fun this is the tale for you.
I laughed at the mad antics of Fen and his cohorts. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Mystery Buff
5.0 out of 5 stars the moving toyshop
FAB FAB FAB...... long time since I read such a fascinating story..... great great author........I would recommend this author to all
Published 15 months ago by Ca
3.0 out of 5 stars you're interested in how detective novels used to be written then this...
I remember reading this detective thriller as a child and enjoying it hugely. Alas, I should have left my childhood memories there for, on rereading the book recently, I still... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Mark Pack
3.0 out of 5 stars Whimsy is the word
A crime so contrived it makes you wonder why bother? And a police force failing to secure a murder scene for several hours! Read more
Published 21 months ago by Norman Moletrouser
4.0 out of 5 stars Deservedly the best revviewed and praised of series
I made the mistake of reading the Gervaise Fenn series in the order of publication, and wasn't too impressed with the first two. Read more
Published on 30 Nov. 2012 by J. Severn
4.0 out of 5 stars a fun and engagin locked room, crime farce
The Moving Toyshop is a locked room, crime farce. Crispin writes in taut, tight prose, that is all show and no tell so that the plot moves along a jaunty pace. Read more
Published on 12 Oct. 2012 by Rob Kitchin
4.0 out of 5 stars Whimsical and eccentric little mystery
Definitely dated, but overall I enjoyed it. Some of it seems a little unbelievable now, and it's a bit overcomplicated in places, but quite a good romp. Read more
Published on 26 Aug. 2012 by snowqueen01
2.0 out of 5 stars Creaky and old fashioned
This book reads as if it had been written by a schoolboy in the Thirties. It doesn't descend to 'Yaroo' and 'Cripes' but comes close. It's not very ingenious either.
Published on 30 April 2012 by M. S. Howells
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