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Continuing on with my A-Z of Vintage Crime Fiction series, this week I tackle the letter E and I’ve gone for the author Edmund Crispin who’s books were published mainly in the 1940’s and 50’s.

Edmund Crispin was an alias and the real name of the author was Robert Bruce Montgomery, usually known as Bruce (2/10/1921 – 15/9/1978).  His main profession was composer and his best known works include the scores for several Carry on Films as well as the classic theme.

There are 9 detective novels by Edmund Crispin and they feature his sleuth Gervase Fen who is an Oxford English professor.  The plots are complex and fairly unbelievable but entertaining nevertheless.  I reviewed The Moving Toy Shop a few months ago on the blog which I had come across when looking for fiction set in Oxford.  I found the protagonist to be suitably disinterested in the quest at hand and the plot to be fairly ridiculous – the pair following the clues were talking in a cafe about who they needed to speak to next and that person stood up and introduced themselves.  It moved the story along anyway!  But actually all in all the story was silly and entertaining and obviously was all worked out in the end.  I think.

Novels:-

  • 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)
  • The Long Divorce (1951)
  • The Glimpses of the Moon (1977)

Crispin was inducted into the Detection Club, alongside the greats like Christie,  in 1947 and was considered a great Post War Crime Novelist.  Sadly he was a heavy drinker and this affected his musical and written output.  He died in 1978 because of the alcohol and only shortly after he had married.

The Gervase Fen mysteries are definitely vintage crime novels that should not be lost, worthy of a visit for any crime fiction fan.  Vintage Books has recently has re-released the  novels and I have found them fairly easy to come by in Waterstones.

Let me know if you have read any of the Fen mysteries and what you thought.  I’ve just managed to pick up Holy Disorders so will report on that soon!