Chronicles of Crispin - Volume 2,
This review is from: Holy Disorders (Paperback)
This is the second of Edmund Crispin's beautifully compact Gervase Fen mysteries featuring his quirky hero, who moonlights as a detective from his 'day job' as Professor of English at a fictional Oxford University college.
Like the first novel, The Case of the Gilded Fly, there is frequent literary allusion - although it's not vital to the plot, it's great fun working out where the quotations come from. Just make sure you have a copy of Edgar Allan Poe's poem "The Raven" handy! The book is also full of outlandish situations, such as Geoffrey Vintner in the early pages lurching inexpertly from one life-threatening situation to another whilst clutching the huge butterfly net that Fen has insisted he brings with him. We are also introduced to a range of eccentric clerics alongside some neo-Nazis and a coven of devil-worshippers as well as a group of policemen who seem to have been spirited in from The Pirates of Penzance...and then there is the murder in the cathedral...all within the span of the same day.
Fen himself does not appear until we get nearly a third of the way through the book, although we are frequently reminded of him via notes and people's reports of conversations with him. The final section of the book is much darker than we might expect from what precedes it, but it brings a sharp dose of realism to the plot and highlights the seriousness of the situation.
There is great fun to be had with this book. Like its predecessor, there is a map in the early stages which holds some of the answers. See if you can work out who did it - and how!