Buried for Pleasure Paperback – 1 Oct 2009
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The classic crime thrillers of Edmund Crispin are quite unlike any others in their constantly digressing good humour, their smart puzzle-setting and their strong-skewed sense of what is right and fair. In Buried for Pleasure, his don-detective Gervase Fenn comes to the out-of-way village of Sanford Angelorum to stand in a Parliamentary by-election; he has just finished a major piece of academic work and needs diversion. Almost at once, he recognises another guest in the hotel as an incognito police inspector from London, learns of a local woman poisoned by her blackmailer and then Inspector Bussy is killed, seemingly stabbed in the throat by an escaped lunatic. Not especially enjoying the by-election, Fenn takes a hand in the investigation and finds himself caught up with dotty psychiatrists, ecclesiastical poltergeists, lost heirs and a small and unappealing pig. As Jonathan Gash points out in his introduction, it would be a mistake to regard this as merely cosy or merely a romp; the Crispin novels showed what could be done to the detective novel with a bit of style. Fenn is a fascinating detective because we get to know so much of the over-stocked interior of his highly intelligent head. --Roz Kaveney --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
" Both the mature and the discerning young choose to pick up one of Crispin's beautifully turned crime novels" (The Times)
"Crispin isn't in it for the mystery, but for the enigmas" (Guardian)
"His books are full of high spirits and excellent jokes, with constant literary allusions and an atmosphere of bibulous good humour. But at times the mood turns darker, and Crispin is capable of passages of both genuine suspense and ingenius deduction" (The Daily Telegraph)
"Crispin is noted for an ability to embellish clever story lines with Marx Brothers touches" (New York Times)
"Rightly elevated to classic status" (New York Sun)
Top customer reviews
Our eccentric sleuth, Gervase Fen, has decided that he would like to run in a parliamentary election in the little town of Sanford Angelorum. Unfortunately he has to put his political ambitions on hold when a murdered policeman turns up on the campaign trail. What follows is Edmund Crispin guiding us through an hilarious sequence of events where Fen meets a number of comedic individuals during his investigation, including an escaped naked lunatic who’s convinced he’s President Woodrow Wilson, a peculiar priest who is trying to keep his domesticated poltergeist a secret, and a ‘non-doing’ pig who meets his demise despite assisting to put paid to the villain of the story.
I enjoyed all these comedic interludes because Crispin cleverly interweaves them into Fen’s investigation. In many ways the actual murder investigation in Buried for Pleasure plays second fiddle to the comedy and the political satire, but they in no way detract from the murder investigation that is capably managed and tidily wrapped up by Gervase Fen.
I hope this review encourages you to read some of Edmund Crispin’s crime output because his books are a delight to read and in Gervase Fen he has created a national treasure.
Surprisingly, Fen has moved out to a small countryside constituency to run for parliament as an independent candidate, having tired of his life as a professor of English in the Oxford college of St Christopher. Less surprisingly, dark deeds are afoot which Fen gets drawn into and ends up helping to solve. There is a magnificent gallery of characters depicted in the book, and a number of entertaining, on-going situations such as the enthusiastic but misplaced amateur demolition work going on to renovate the pub attached to the hotel where Fen is staying. Crispin's insights into the world of politics show that remarkably little has changed since the 1940s and Fen's discussions with his campaign manager are frequently hilarious.
The dénouement of the novel is particularly well thought-through and the reader can look back through the book and see where the clues to one of the significant aspects of the case were laid in front of us by the author.
On balance, this is probably the most consistently enjoyable and well-written of the Fen mysteries, closely followed by The Moving Toyshop and Frequent Hearses. It is also a very compact and economical story, told within 180 gripping pages.
As the character develops one can discern a more complex character, with hints of the genteel fashion of Miss Marple, tempered by the more prosaic nature brought about by exposure to human frailties. Being from an academic centre, one is drawn to the comparison of Fen with Morse, but this does not really exist, since Morse is more obviously romantic in his soul and yet more professional through his official position.
The book explores a familiar scene - the idyll of country life facing upheaval, but with the added twist of a backdrop of a by-election, which provides a sort of stabilising sub-text. Red herrings are not particularly in evidence, although all aspects of the book are relatively understated. The whodunnit element is not particularly taxing, but one tends to forget that and concentrate more on the quality of the writing.
A great book to relax with for crime acolytes with a penchant for the rather older English detective story.
Strongly recommended for anyone who wonders whether the sun ever shone In the post-war years. Absolutely delightful.
The mystery is as entertaining as usual and the political satire is still spot on in these days of Brexit and the US Presidential elections.
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