A Moving Toyshop – and a Murder Writer Live!

Excitement builds hereabouts for the local library Ann Cleeves evening. I managed to get one of the very last tickets; despite receiving plenty of prior notice Husband finally decided that I was not going to be enjoying the delights of Manchester or Sheffield so I scooted over there to get ticket 48 of 50!

I must confess that I’m not really well up on Ann Cleeves’ writing. I have to be feeling strong to cope with modern day crime writing; Agatha, Margary, Susanna (Gregory) and of course CJ Samson can be brutal, sad or a bit depressing but at least they have the advantage of historical distance. When I have a go at writing murder mysteries, I usually take the easy route of setting them in the past, which at least means that I don’t need exhaustive knowledge of CSI! I have shown willing though by buying The Crow Trap.

so that I will not be completely taken by surprise! Apparently it’s the first in the Vera Stanhope series, soon to be televised. Friend HR tells me that she attended an evening with Ann Cleeves which involved actually setting up a mystery! Will  I become addicted? Watch this space!

Today’s book that I have actually read is The Moving Toyshop by Edmund Crispen.

My copy is modern reprint of this old edition, but it’s not the Crime element which is so interesting about this book. The hero is Gervase Fen, a Professor of English at Oxford. I don’t know the city well, beyond a couple of competitive visits in the early eighties, but this book is full of hair raising  trips in a sports car, moving shops, a dastardly and complex plot that I enjoyed greatly. It is a very funny book, with poetry being quoted, tiddly professors, woman – charming undergraduates, confused moments locked in cupboards etc. It does differ from most of the female writers of the 40s and 50s which I normally read in that the men take the lead and women can be charmed, murdered and generally a bit confused. But it is very funny. Not sure about the plot; it is outrageously complex, but that is probably part of this book’s undeniable charm. It is definitely a period piece, dated and a little sexist, but clever, funny and charming. Research suggests that there are others in this series; not doubt a great antidote to more serious minded murder mysteries (or you could try The Affair of the Bloodstained Egg Cosy by James Anderson, but that’s another post…)

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