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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Witty and diverting - an eccentric minor classic
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...
Published on 21 Jun 2001 by ianbrown8

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An amusing, light-hearted mystery story.
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...
Published on 11 April 2011 by wolf


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30 of 32 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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An amusing, light-hearted mystery story., 11 April 2011
By 
wolf (East Midlands, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Moving Toyshop (Paperback)
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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4 of 4 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 "Kenneth F. McAra" (Dundee, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Moving Toyshop (Paperback)
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".

Interestingly, the venue and nature of the climax prefigures, by 5 years, the one in Hitchcock's Strangers On A Train (1951) [DVD], an adaptation of the debut novel by Patricia Highsmith (1950). As far as I'm aware Crispin was never credited with this by Hitchcock or anyone else, but there are far too many parallels....which would be 'spoilers' if I listed them here!

Great fun, as always.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Moving Toyshop, 4 Aug 2013
By 
S Riaz "S Riaz" (England) - See all my reviews
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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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Welcome respite from reality crime fiction, 12 Feb 2012
This review is from: The Moving Toyshop (Paperback)
In the days when one did not have to embed oneself with the local plod in order to write detective fiction, Edmund Crispin conjures up a delightful escapade full of humour, pace and frivolity, a sort of Lord Peter Wimsey meets Billy Bunter, and he's not afraid of a little language or a gory murder scene, so one should not be lulled into thinking this is simply Whitehall farce.

It works because his style oozes authenticity, the language and turn of phrase, the over-the-top characterisation, try to write this today and you would be laughed off the page. Pretentious? Moi? It also helps that the backdrop of Oxford is little changed, so we can still know our way around, although the eccentricities of Parson's Pleasure and Dame's Delight are no longer with us.

The Moving Toyshop is a murder mystery with a novel twist, the twist being that the scene of the crime disappears as well as the murderer and the body. Richard Cadogan is a poet seeking to spice up his tedious day-to-day existence with a little adventure by visiting Oxford and gets it when he stumbles upon the gruesome murder of an elderly woman. Gervase Fen, his friend and Oxford don, is the amateur sleuth who steps into the breach when the police fail to pursue Cadogan's unbelievable story; no body, no crime scene, no case is their not unreasonable stance. And as their investigation unfolds they are joined by a motley bunch of helpers and general hangers-on who are in it for the jape.

Whilst it is light-hearted don't dismiss it out of hand. Crispin keeps us guessing and the pace never slows. It is a sunny summer interlude between those bouts of Scandinavian darkness.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A slice of 1930's England, 7 July 2004
By 
L. Hulme (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This book isn't exactly a heavyweight in the burgeoning crime genre. I discovered it quite randomly on a recommendation from a friend, after a slow start I found this book nearly impossible to put down. I do however have a nostalgic love for all things 'English' and i love the 1930's. This book perhaps is a precursor to Morse, what with all the galavanting about Oxford. With two colourful characters both chasing a group of mysterious and muderous people who have benefitted from the will of a dead elderly woman, this book is good fun with no real dark undercurrent. What i really enjoyed was the unusual sounding story - the synopsis sounds a bit surreal to start with, but it all unravels in the end. Favourite antiquicated line from the book: "Oh my dear paws!" I shall have to try and use that more in general conversation!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Deservedly the best revviewed and praised of series, 30 Nov 2012
By 
J. Severn (LONDON United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Moving Toyshop (Paperback)
I made the mistake of reading the Gervaise Fenn series in the order of publication, and wasn't too impressed with the first two. This was much better - I recommend starting with this, and then moving through. It's not a series when the order of reading matters. This was witty and entertaining.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a fun and engagin locked room, crime farce, 12 Oct 2012
By 
Rob Kitchin - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Moving Toyshop (Paperback)
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. The characterisation is nicely observed, especially the double act of Cadogan, the poet out of his depth, and Fen, the bright detective who ignores the law. The other principles are also well penned. The plot is quite intricate, and the puzzle is agreeably knotted. A streak of dark humour runs throughout and as the story unfolds the farce deepens, so that by the end there are dozens of people chasing each other round Oxford in a set of caper sequences. The only real issue is that plot does rest on a set of coincidences and actions that are unlikely, which the author tries to paste over by conversing directly with reader. In many ways this doesn't really matter as the story remains a very enjoyable romp. Overall, a fun and engaging tale.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Whimsical and eccentric little mystery, 26 Aug 2012
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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. Characterization a little shallow, and the pace felt a touch hysterical at times, but an amusing little mystery nonetheless. Try it if you like Allingham, Tay or Carr.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too whimsical for me, but recommended to anyone who loves Oxford, 31 Mar 2009
This review is from: The Moving Toyshop (Paperback)
The Moving Toyshop is a Penguin classic crime book, originally published in 1946. It is a light, supposedly comic, mystery set in Oxford. The story begins with a poet returning to Oxford late one night. He finds the body of an old woman in a toyshop, but the next morning the toyshop, and the body have vanished. The police are not interested in a crime, which to them doesn't seem to exist, so the poet persuades his friend, an English professor, to help him investigate.

I found the references to Oxford fascinating, as I know the city well. The geography of the city hasn't changed much in the last 60 years, but the attitude of the residents is very different - people seemed to trust each other a lot more then! The language is very quaint, and it is lovely to read a book so full of Englishness!

My main problem with the book was that it was a bit too whimsical for me. I don't find this gentle humour very funny, so I think the main attraction of this sort of book is lost on me. There were lots of other little things which irritated me, but what annoyed me most was the way everyone readily admitted their role in the crime. The "I'm going to kill you, but first let me tell you everything I've done" scene was the worst offender!

Overall, I found this be be a light, reasonably entertaining mystery, and would recommend it to anyone who loves Oxford.
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The Moving Toyshop
The Moving Toyshop by Edmund Crispin (Paperback - 5 April 2007)
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