The Moving Toyshop (Gervase Fen, #3)
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The Moving Toyshop (Gervase Fen #3)

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  1,590 ratings  ·  165 reviews
One night, Richard Cadogan, poet and would-be bon-vivant, finds the body of an elderly woman in an Oxford toyshop, and is hit on the head. When he comes to, he finds that the toyshop has disappeared and been replaced with a grocery store. A quirky and appealing mystery for fans of classic crime.
Paperback, 208 pages
Published April 5th 2007 by Vintage (first published 1946)
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#10 Favourite Read of 2012

By my paws and whiskers this was quite simply brilliant.

Listed in Keating's 100 Best Crime and Mystery Books, Moving Toyshop is "a froth of bubbling spirits, a sparkling example of the donnish detective story", at its heart is the absurd disappearance of a toyshop visited in midnight Oxford, which is explained with perfect plausibility by the time of the denouement. One night, Richard Cadogan, poet and would-be bon-vivant, finds the body of an elderly woman in an Oxford...more
K.D. Absolutely
Excellent and definitely interesting old (1946-published) thriller. I closed this book last week wondering how could Edmund Crispin (1921-1978) pull off a riveting denouement while operating on a tight plotline. While reading, I was wondering how would he tie up the loose ends but the ending was just believable that I had the urge to read it once again.

Why do the current mystery-thriller writers don't write this way anymore? In 2006, P.D. James picked it as one of her five most riveting crime n...more
May 15, 2008 Ceci rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: all who enjoy mystery stories and lovely literary comedy
Shelves: all-time-favs
The Moving Toyshop is one of my all time favourites. I remember making a presentation on it at school, when I was about 12 years old. And having re-read it now, I see it has lost none of its unique charm. Edmund Crispin is the most adorable of the mystery authors of the golden age. He (or, rather, the narrator) often speaks to the readers directly, as when the attractive sleuth, an Oxford lit prof, Gervase Fen mentions he's inventing book titles for Crispin. The book is farcical, delightful, a t...more
I knew I was going to like this book when I opened it to the section where the two sleuths, Cadogan and Gervase Fen, find themselves bound and locked in a closet. The rest of the college is away at lunch, and with no one to rescue them, they must amuse themselves with a game called "Unreadable Books."

'All right. Ulysses.'
'Yes. Rabelais.'
'Yes. Tristram Shandy.'
'Yes. The Golden Bowl.'
'Yes. Rasselas.'
'No. I like that.'
'Clarissa, then.'
'Yes. Titus ....'

Ugh ... how spot on! Within the last year, I've...more
When it comes to mysteries, I think I began with the creme de la creme -- a friend introduced me to Dorothy Sayers, Edmund Crispin, Ngaio Marsh, and a few other select authors in my mid-twenties -- I'd never read any mysteries until that time.

The Moving Toyshop is a favorite mystery, and one I've read several time. It's fast-paced, witty, and chock full of the eccentric English characters that have become stock-in-trade for such writers a Martha Grimes and other "cozy" mystery writers -- but th...more
I haven't started yet and already I like it:

"NOTE None but the most blindly credulous will imagine the characters and events in this story to be anything but fictitious."
This is the third Gervase Fen mystery, following on from The Case of the Gilded Fly and Holy Orders, and is generally considered the best of the series. This is very much a light hearted, Golden Age mystery, with liberal literary quotes and references to the author - at one point Fen is making up possible book titles for 'Crispin' for example. It is set in 1938, but was written in 1945 and contains a magical and unreal storyline which does require a certain amount of 'joining in' with the sense...more
Begins with the middle aged poet Richard Cadogan playing around with a pistol while attempting to get his publisher to give him an advance so that he can go on holiday to Oxford and attempt get his creative juices flowing. Cadogan tells his publisher, "This isn't a Chekhov play," but of course it is a murder mystery and the gun will--as in a Chekhov play--inevitably go off before the book ends. The novel is littered with literary fun and games. When Cadogan is stranded at a train station on the...more
I knew this book was a dark horse before I started reading it. I think this may have detracted slightly from my enjoyment of it - when Toby was reading it and laughing out loud, reading out funny parts and noting the self-referentiality of it all, I was surprised. But when it came to reading it for myself, I knew all this already, and so my bar for pleasant surprise was higher. I expected Fen to be making up titles for the author during the story, otherwise that escapade might have reduced me to...more
Mariano Hortal
Publicado en

Si no fuera por Sir Arthur Conan Doyle y Agatha Christie, gracias a sus detectives más famosos y paradigmáticos del género como son Sherlock Holmes y Hercules Poirot, la novela más tradicional de género como es la novela de detectives, hoy en día estaría más que olvidada; no porque no guste, que no es así, sino más bien debido al auge tremendo de la novela negra, que ahoga las pretensiones de un tipo de libros que no buscaba tanto lo negro del...more
Brilliant. Funny, erudite, and (forgive me) postmodern before meta was a meme. quotes to follow. I would have given it five stars but the plot devices were nowhere near seamless, though self-consciously presented and therefore, if not effective, then certainly endearing. Some of the more questionable plot mechanics are discussed in situ:

…yet, when all things were considered, there was no great reason why Miss Alice Winkworth should not be eating tea in the same café as themselves. To them it app...more

Crispin makes it possible to solve a mystery and have a lot of fun while doing it.I loved the mad caper that our detective Gervase Fen led us on in the university city of Oxford. The premise of the story is that a body is found by the protagonist- Richard Cadogan, in a toyshop. He is hit on the head and passes out. The next day when he returns to the shop he finds the body missing and the shop converted to a grocery shop!

I enjoyed the humor in this book. The irreverent references to Jane Auste...more
Robert Bruce Montgomery (1921-1978) wrote comic mystery novels under the pen name of Edmund Crispin, the first of which, "The Case of the Gilded Fly," was published in 1944. Crispin didn't write many novels, but those he did featured the eccentric, absent-minded Oxford don and professor of English and Literature, Gervase Fen.

The third of these books is perhaps his best. Titled "The Moving Toyshop," PD James named it as one of the best five mysteries of all time and critic and mystery writer H.R....more
Tras la desilusión de saber que comenzaba una serie por el tercer libro (los primeros fueron obviados por impedimenta, aunque el primero se publicó en español por Alianza: El caso de la mosca dorada #1; Holy disorders #2 no lo he encontrado en español) de una serie de 11 (el canto del cisne #4 también publicado por impedimenta, love lies bleeding #5, buried for pleasure#6, frequent hearses#7, the long divorce#8, beware of the trains#9, the glimpses of the moon#10, Fen country twenty-six stories...more
I can't write a better review than GoodReads Librarian "Cissy Mermaid" did. She nails the charm this golden-age mystery has, and then writes a wonderful review. So I'll list all the words I'd never seen before that I encountered in The Moving Toyshop. Some I could figure out in context, but others I had to look up. Many are obsolete in Modern English, more the shame.

1) Tautologous: repeating the same thing in different words
2) Atrabilious: irritable, as if suffering from indigestion
3) Magniloque...more
Jul 14, 2008 rabbitprincess rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: mystery buffs who enjoy locked-room mysteries and general hilarity
Recommended to rabbitprincess by: Top 100 list, also my Mystery Fiction prof
What a deliciously good read. I plowed through it in an afternoon just because it was so enthralling. How's this for a stumper: one night, a poet stumbles into a toyshop and finds a dead body. Then he is knocked out, shoved into a closet, and left there till morning. He manages to get out the next day, heads for the police station, and tells them his story. The police accompany him to the toyshop -- or rather, what he thought was a toyshop. For in its place on this sunny Oxford morning is a groc...more
The Moving Toyshop by Edmund Crispin is utterly fabulous. It cropped up on some list of great sleuthing books a while ago and recently, I decided I needed a random treat. Having forgotten all the details that merited its placement on my Amazon wishlist, I was plunged into a wickedly funny and delicious murder mystery romp that takes place over twenty four hours in Oxford.

The Moving Toyshop is the third in a series of novels featuring Gervase Fen, an Oxford don who evidently solves crimes more of...more
Tristan Macavery
A word to the modern American reader: Eschew your impatience, simply enjoy the book!

In our make-work, haste-driven world, a book such as this is often cast aside as "slow-moving" or "full of irrelevancies." It is, in fact, a beautiful representative of what is knows as a Golden Age mystery. The mildly-to-wildly exaggerated characters, the fourth-wall breaking, the tangential commentary, all of these things are part of developing a wonderful and sweeping narrative that is designed to put the read...more
Sep 01, 2011 ^ rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: admirers of classic detective fiction
Recommended to ^ by: my father
Action packed and great fun. Crispin’s tongue-in-cheek descriptive humour sparkles engagingly; for example, (pg 57) “Among the altos, hooting morosely like ships in a Channel fog – which is the way of altos the world over …” Utterly improbable yet brilliantly believable. Fen, as the White Rabbit (“Oh my fur and whiskers!”) holds it all together.

In the Wall Street Journal of 22 October 2006, PD James placed "The Moving Toyshop" amongst her top five most riveting detective novels, describing it t...more
La juguetería errante (1946) es una comedia policiaca al estilo británico que sigue la tradición de Conan Doyle, Chesterton, Agatha Christie o Wodehouse. Es esta una novela de detectives bien cargada de humor que protagonizan Richard Cadogan, un poeta que se marcha unos días a Oxford después de discutir con su editor, y Gervase Fen, un excéntrico profesor de literatura inglesa y detective aficionado.

Todo comienza cuando Cadogan se encuentra sorprendentemente con el cadáver de una mujer en una ju...more
Graham Powell
This is considered one of the gems of the Golden Age of Mysteries, though I was a little underwhelmed. Poet Richard Cadogan, in search of adventure to perk up his weary muse, sets out to Oxford, where he went to college. Walking through the town at midnight, he stumbles into a toyshop and discovers a dead body. Then he's struck on the head and dumped into an empty closet. Upon awakening the next morning he escapes and fetches the police, but on returning discovers that the toyshop has turned int...more
Margaret H.
This little honey is a perfect gem, not so much for the classic "locked room" mystery set-up, but for the delightfully wacky sleuth, Professor Gervase Fen. Teaching classics at Oxford, Fen is an absolute riot, recruiting bands of rowdy students to help round up the criminals at the novel's end, and frequently speaking about himself in the third person as... the hero of a mystery novel.

Simply beautiful, original, and fun. For a while, this was the only Crispin I could fin din print, but they hav...more
Muy entretenido, divertido y con multitud de referencias sobre literatura inglesa; me lo he pasado de maravilla leyéndolo.
This book was great fun and good exercise for the little grey cells. It's dripping with literary allusions. I didn't know whodunnit till the very end. Note to self: Find more Crispin.
the other reviews say this is witty, donnish ,full of clever literary stuff ( love the games of 'unreadable books ' and the suggestion of 'awful lines from Shakespeare') but I did n' t find it laugh out loud funny which others did. perhaps reading late at night precludes that. clever people solve a murder, then other cover-up murders, so not really a farce, but quite a lot of car chases in the style of Keystone cops etc, always,ahead if and in spite of the police. minimal female involvement exce...more
Marisa James
Edmund Crispin has the most impressive vocabulary I've encountered, and the only frustrating thing about his books is my competing desires to find out what happens next and to go look up two words per page on the way there. This one is especially wonderful; I know that feeling of "but I'm sure that store was there yesterday" (which, in my case, is usually the result of a faulty memory rather than foul play), and Crispin teases his characters like a cat as they try to figure put what on earth is...more
The Moving Toyshop wins my award for the best book title not stolen from Shakespeare. I have also discovered that like fine wine the contents improve with age.

I now understand the sly digs at Janeites, and the literary references slipped in casually the way writers used to do when they could assume all readers read Latin and could quote freely from the great works of western poetry and drama.

The whole edifice could be self-consciously clever, but Edmund Crispin’s tone is so amiable that I purely...more
The writing is so delightful and witty, the characters so charming, the setting so droll, the set-up so interesting, that one forgives The Moving Toyshop for ultimately being a thoroughly implausible, thoroughly artificial "puzzle" mystery whose solution is considerably less interesting than everything along the way.

Set in the 1940s (give or take), The Moving Toyshop follows a poet from London to Oxford where he finds a dead body above a toyshop, gets knocked over the head, and when he finally r...more
The third Gervase Fen novel is another "locked door" mystery. Richard has bullied his publisher into giving him an advance so he can take a short holiday in Oxford to refresh his creative juices. He finds himself without a place to stay and begins poking around town. He is surprised to find a shop with an unlocked door and heads inside. It is a toyshop and there is a living quarters upstairs. He is shocked to find the body of a woman, and she has clearly not died of natural causes. He hears a no...more
Tombom P
Pretty slight but pleasant enough mystery/adventure novel. A lot of focus on all the capers that happen along the way, less on the mystery. A lot of people here think it's funny but the writing isn't too good and the situations, which although not that funny could be salvaged with good writing, just seem a bit dull. The mystery makes sense and I'm pretty sure you can solve it, although it's not a particularly exciting one. He makes sure to inject his own upper class prejudices into it - his trea...more
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Edmund Crispin was the pseudonym of (Robert) Bruce Montgomery (1921-1978). His first crime novel and musical composition were both accepted for publication while he was still an undergraduate at Oxford. After a brief spell of teaching, he became a full-time writer and composer (particularly of film music. He wrote the music for six of the Carry On films. But he was also well known for his concert...more
More about Edmund Crispin...
The Case of the Gilded Fly (Gervase Fen, #1) Love Lies Bleeding (Gervase Fen, #5) Holy Disorders (Gervase Fen, #2) Swan Song (Gervase Fen, #4) Frequent Hearses (Gervase Fen, #7)

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“Down the Woodstock Road towards them an elderly, abnormally thin man was pedalling, his thin white hair streaming in the wind and sheer desperation in his eyes. Immediately behind him, running for their lives, came Scylla and Charybdis; behind them, a milling, shouting rout of undergraduates, with Mr Adrian Barnaby (on a bicycle) well in the van; behind them, the junior proctor, the University Marshal, and two bullers, packed into a small Austin car and looking very elect, severe and ineffectual; and last of all, faint but pursuing, lumbered the ungainly form of Mr Hoskins.” 2 likes
“None but the most blindly credulous will imagine the characters and events in this story to be anything but fictitious. It is true that the ancient and noble city of Oxford is, of all the towns of England, the likeliest progenitor of unlikely events and persons. But there are limits.” 2 likes
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