Gervase Fen

I was reminded of the novels of Edmund Crispin (Robert Bruce Montgomery, 1921-1978) in a recent reader’s catalog (sort of) from the Bas Bleu Society. (Check them out at He wrote 9 novels and two short story collections featuring an Oxford don, Gervase Fen, as his protagonist. Fen is an interesting and somewhat bumbling and annoying character, but this is very entertaining reading, especially if you’re fond of Oxford. (I am!)

I had only read The Moving Toyshop (his most famous book) before, so I thought it would be nice to read them all in in order. I downloaded the Kindle version of the first one, The Case of the Gilded Fly and started in. This is really fun reading! The prologue takes us on the slow train from London to Oxford (check out this Flanders and Swann song sung by The King’s Singers: The Slow Train ) and introduces us to the main characters based on their reactions to how long the journey takes. It made me laugh out loud!

I’m enjoying the book and all of its literary and Oxonian allusions. As the plot revolves around the production of a play, all of you who enjoy drama will enjoy this book.  It will be lots of fun to read them all!

Here are the novels in order:

The Case of the Gilded Fly (1944)
Holy Disorders (1945)
The Moving Toyshop (1946).
Swan Song (1947)
Love Lies Bleeding (1948)
Buried for Pleasure (1948)
Frequent Hearses (1950) (also published as Sudden Vengeance)
The Long Divorce (1951)
The Glimpses of the Moon (1977)

The Case of the Gilded Fly


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