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The Case of the Gilded Fly (Gervase Fen #1)

3.59  ·  Rating Details ·  1,654 Ratings  ·  191 Reviews

Theater companies are notorious hotbeds of intrigue, and few are more intriguing than the company currently in residence at Oxford University. Center-stage is the beautiful, malicious Yseut, a mediocre actress with a stellar talent for destroying men. Rounding out the cast are more than a few of her past and present conquests, and the women who love them. And watching from

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Paperback, 237 pages
Published June 2005 by Felony & Mayhem (first published 1944)
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Jeffrey Keeten
Dec 05, 2014 Jeffrey Keeten rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
”The trouble is, we’re all so damnably intelligent at Oxford, “ he said irritably. “the fact of murder, which rouses an immediate instinct of self-preservation in the unsophisticated, has to penetrate to our animal souls through a thick barrier of sophisms; apparently in the present case it hasn’t even done that--merely bounced off again. Yet murder remains murder, none the less and there’s no way of getting around it.”

 photo EdmundCrispin_zps504aaa61.jpg
Robert Bruce Montgomery A.K.A. Edmund Crispin was a composer as well as crim
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Miriam
Jan 28, 2013 Miriam rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery, theater
There was a long gap in his writing during a time when he was suffering from alcohol problems. Otherwise he enjoyed a quiet life enlivened by music, reading, church-going and bridge, Wikipedia states, adding that he married his secretary two years before his death at age 56.

This very much fits with the sense his writing gives of Montgomery (Crispin was a nom de plume) as a person. He writes very cleverly, and with a sort of academic enthusiasm, but does not seem to understand people very well.
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Susan
Feb 19, 2016 Susan rated it it was amazing
This Golden Age detective novel begins with eleven people arriving in wartime Oxford, most of whom are involved with putting on a new play out of the glare of London critics. We are told that within the week, three of these people will die by violence, and the author sets the scene nicely with a cast of characters that seem full of jealousy and intrigue. These include the playwright Robert Warner, actress Yseut Haskell who seems universally disliked, organist Donald Fellowes, who is in love with ...more
Tracey
Feb 20, 2015 Tracey rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery, 3-star
I've been a Crispin fan, in a subliminal sort of way, for years. I read several – probably picked up at library sales – and quietly reveled in the sharp wit and erudition. And then kind of forgot about them; Crispin has been on my List for a long time, but I've never bestirred myself to finish my collection. So I was tickled when this first book in the series – which I'd never picked up before – became the book-of-the-month at the revived Goodreads English Mysteries Group.

It's been a long time s
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Jane
Aug 26, 2012 Jane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Where I got the book: purchased used through Amazon. Absolutely marvelous dreadful cover.

Having had a few days to allow this murder mystery to percolate through my brain, I have come to the conclusion that the whole thing is a novel-length p*ss-take of the genre and that the author was laughing up his sleeve at the reader the whole time. Set in Oxford during World War II, the story revolves around a repertory theater group who are putting on--from scratch in one week--a play by a brilliant playw
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Oscar
Mar 15, 2015 Oscar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
‘El misterio de la mosca dorada’ (The Case of the Gilded Fly, 1944), del inglés Edmund Crispin, pseudónimo de Bruce Montgomery (1921-1978), pertenece a la Edad de Oro de las novelas de detectives. Como es habitual, Crispin integra a la perfección el humor británico con un misterio por resolver. Pero Crispin fue más allá en lo que eran las historias de detectives, el juego intelectual de plantear un misterio, ya que sus tramas están plagadas de suculentas citas literarias y de alusiones a obras c ...more
Tfitoby
Feb 19, 2013 Tfitoby rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: whodunnit
After the joys of The Moving Toyshop I felt it was only fair to start at the beginning of the Gervase Fen sequence. Little did I know that it was not the most exciting of adventures however.

A locked room mystery set backstage of the current Oxford University company in residence whose just so happen to be more than passing acquaintances with resident amateur sleuth and professional English literature lecturer, Gervase Fen.

Aside from the excellent prologue (which felt almost as if it had been tac
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Richard Derus
Rating: 2.5* of five

The Book Description: Theater companies are notorious hotbeds of intrigue, and few are more intriguing than the company currently in residence at Oxford University. Center-stage is the beautiful, malicious Yseult, a mediocre actress with a stellar talent for destroying men. Rounding out the cast are more than a few of her past and present conquests, and the women who love them. And watching from the wings is Professor Gervase Fen--scholar, wit, and fop extraordinaire--who wou
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Sub_zero
Jun 04, 2015 Sub_zero rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reto-2015
Cabría suponer que a estas alturas del partido, poco o nada nuevo hay que añadir sobre las características que hacen del escritor británico uno de los autores más excepcionales que podemos encontrar dentro del género al que se adscriben sus novelas, pero lo cierto es que la extravagante fórmula ideada por Crispin, que supone combinar una erudición literaria muy próxima a la pedantería con los vertiginosos trasiegos detectivescos que hacían de estas historias un exitoso entretenimiento popular, c ...more
Kim

The first novel in the Gervase Fen series and the first of Crispin's novels which I've read, this was the August 2012 group read for the English Mysteries Book Club. Gervase Fen, an Oxford don and gifted amateur detective, solves the murder of an actress apparently hated by all who knew her.

This review, written by my friend Jane and this one written by my friend Tracey, leave me little to say about the novel. Jane and Tracey (as usual) do a great job with their analysis of the strengths and wea
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Sonia
May 27, 2016 Sonia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
El misterio de la mosca dorada es una novela de detectives que sigue la estela de los grandes clásicos de este tipo de literatura como Agatha Christie o Conan Doyle. Un detective enfrentado a un misterio del tipo habitación cerrada, que su cerebro privilegiado será capaz de resolver con rapidez y eficacia, antes de que la policía o sus colaboradores lleguen a atisbar si quiera algún retazo de las complejidades del acertijo planteado. La nota que lo distingue de sus compañeros de género es quizás ...more
Simon Mcleish
Apr 18, 2016 Simon Mcleish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Originally published on my blog here in June 2001.

One of Crispin's best Gervase Fen novels, The Case of the Gilded Fly is about murder in a repertory company in Oxford. Nowadays, the decline in theatregoing has killed off the provincial rep scene which used to be so important to the theatre community, and most British theatres outside London play home to sequences of touring productions of lightweight pieces sold to the public by a star name, usually a TV actor, rather than being the home of the
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Jonfaith
Feb 25, 2013 Jonfaith rated it liked it
The resonance of The Pickwick Papers remains in its transgressions of form and style; it is a comic novel punctuated with ghost stories and finding its finest footing in a debtor's prison. Edmund Crispin achieves a similar success; this is a droll portrait of theatre folk during wartime; one which doesn't flinch nor shirk from low humor or dazzling erudition. I laughed freely and marveled at the elocution. I'm nerdy like that. People around here appear to lack that eloquence.

The actual details o
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Leonie
Dec 18, 2011 Leonie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
Unfortunately the misogyny in this was really repulsive. The murder victim, an unpopular actress, is killed because she's a bitch and a slut, and there's a lot of vitriol aimed at her. Before she's killed, someone says "Someone's going to kill or mutilate that girl someday, and I for one shan't be sorry" and afterwards everyone angsts about how no one should hang for her. We keep getting told about how she died because of sex and (view spoiler) ...more
Paul Bowler
May 08, 2016 Paul Bowler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's somewhat inconsistent of me to be giving this 5 stars when I'd considered giving up on it a quarter of the way through. The story isn't very engaging and the characters even less so. Yet I'm already looking forward to reading the other ten Gervase Fen novels.

I know we are to taught to regard 'style over substance' as a bad thing, but sometimes style is enough. And oh my, Crispin writes with style.

If you do take the plunge, the kindle version is very useful for looking up all the words and
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Nancy
Sep 30, 2009 Nancy rated it really liked it
This book takes place during WW II at Oxford. It has a standard mystery format but is a real vocabulary stretcher. Starting about page 100, I kept track of the words I looked up. They were minatory, jejune, gnomic, cinereous, sempitennal, wahlverwandischaft, poltroonish, panatrope and whilom. The author also uses a lot of Latin and French phrases. Because the amateur detective, Gervase Fen, is an Oxford Professor of Language and Literature, the unusual words and foreign language phrases do not s ...more
Mariano Hortal
Publicado en http://lecturaylocura.com/el-misterio...

El misterio de la mosca dorada de Edmund Crispin. Lo intelectual no está reñido con lo popular

“Allí, junto al camposanto, hace un alto la locomotora, con morbosa pertinacia, emitiendo esporádicos gritos y lamentos de deleite necrofílico. Un sentimiento de feroz e irritante frustración se apodera entonces del viajero. Ahí está Oxford, apenas a unos kilómetros de distancia se encuentra la estación, y aquí, el tren. A los pasajeros no se les perm
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Elaine Meszaros
Dec 03, 2014 Elaine Meszaros rated it it was amazing
Crispin is one of those golden-era British mystery authors that is too little known today. His Oxford don, Gervase Fen, is funny, snarky, whitty, absent-minded and brilliant. Whirling from one unlikely event to another, finding clues (and only clues) in the oddest places, Fen and associates solve crimes with style and posh, educated brilliance. Bloody brilliant, old thing!

"Sheila McGraw, the young woman who produced the plays at the repertory theatre in Oxford, traveled third-class. She did this
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Mary Ronan Drew
Jan 04, 2011 Mary Ronan Drew rated it it was amazing
Gervase Fen may be the most eccentric amateur in detective literature. He is a professor of English literature at Oxford and he is one of those folks who are always jiggling their leg or rhythmically moving their shoulder. Can't sit still, Gervase Fen.

In The Case of the Gilded Fly Fen has an opportunity to demonstrate his incisive thinking and forensic imagination when a particularly unpopular second-rate actress is killed in the college rooms below his own one evening when he and his wife, Doll
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Kaph
Verdict: An Oxbridge detective series which actually manages the impossible; being post-modern in a good way.

Scanning my Big List ‘o Books, this title caught my eye. It sounded vaguely fanciful, and though obviously mysterious, was filed under ‘comedy’ rather than ‘crime’. So far so good. A bit of casual Amazon research turned up that it was indeed a mystery, set in Oxford, written by an Englishman. Even better. What cinched the deal, however, was a Goodreads review in which I was promised a tho
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Nimbex
Dec 12, 2015 Nimbex rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Tan genial como La juguetería errante: Un misterio para Gervase Fen y El canto del cisne. La primera aventura de Gervase Fen es divertida, erudita y engancha desde la primera página.
Skye
Mar 24, 2010 Skye rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery, read2010
I read this because I wanted to get into some Golden Age of Detective Fiction classics. This is from 1945 and is the first in a series of books featuring Gervase Fen, Oxford professor of 18thC lit and amateur sleuth. Honestly, I struggled to get through this. I know that the main point of this book was the puzzle rather than the characters but it just wasn't compelling. It had some amusing moments but I was lost on a lot of the more academic references and I could care less about pretty much all ...more
Tony
Mar 10, 2016 Tony rated it really liked it
THE CASE OF THE GILDED FLY. (1954). Edmund Crispin. ***1/2.
From the back flap:
“Edmund Crispin,” creator of nine detective novels and one book of stories featuring Gervase Fen, was under his real name Bruce Montgomery, a highly successful composer of music for motion pictures. A graduate of Oxford and at one time a schoolmaster (a fact to which he attributed, tongue-in-cheek, his knowledge of the criminal in human nature), he was also briefly an actor. This varied background gave him the factual
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Francis
Feb 01, 2016 Francis rated it liked it
Edmund Crispin was a very good author with a fun light hearted and sometimes farcical approach to detective fiction whose novels exhibited a thorough command of the English language. He was also considered by many to be one of the last of the great classic mystery writers.

Unfortunately I thought this story suffered from a few flaws. The protagonist, Professor Gervase Fen, his amateur sleuth was a bit too smug and condescending as in insufferable in this particular story, which is the first in th
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Kate
Jun 28, 2015 Kate rated it really liked it
Ludicrous but fun!
Libros Prestados
Mar 15, 2016 Libros Prestados rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Videoreseña del libro: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1e1ez...

Un misterio "quién lo hizo" británico de manual. De hecho, sigue tan al pie de la letra las reglas del género, que los propios personajes bromean con ello, ya que ellos mismos saben que están dentro de una historia de detectives.

Segunda historia del detective Gervaise Fen escrita por Edmund Crispin que leo, pero primera en la cronología del personaje. Me ha gustado mucho, pero menos que "La juguetería errante". Opino que "La jugueter
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Stuart Douglas
Apr 22, 2012 Stuart Douglas rated it liked it
Edmund Crispin is - with Marjory Allingham - the best writer to have a pop at crime fiction in the golden era of British crime in the 1930s and 40s. His Gervase Fen, unlike Allingham's Campion, is a supremely confident, often arrogant man, who makes no attempt to hide either his confidence or his arrogance, but his actions - like Campion's - wholly justify any preening he may do. I like him loads, but this is the first time I've read the first book in the series, The Case of the Gilded Fly.

There
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Jane
Jan 05, 2010 Jane rated it really liked it
There have been many reissues of golden age crime novels in recent years, and this is one I was particularly pleased to see.

You see, a couple of years ago I snatched up a selection of Edmund Crispin’s works in elderly green Penguin editions. Pretty books, but unfortunately when I opened the first in the series I discovered that it began at page 25.

The mystery of the missing pages is unsolved, but I have learned to open and check old books now before buying.

Now, back to the book.

I always find it
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Lauren Albert
Oct 21, 2015 Lauren Albert rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
This was fun but not as much as the Moving Toyshop. Fen's constant references to knowing who the killer is, but refusing to tell, was just an irritant. But there were funny moments and I liked the literary references.
Barbara
Jun 14, 2012 Barbara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I stumbled across this in a secondhand bookshop and was thrilled as I'd never read this one before. Now they are out of print (or at least very hard to get) I thought I'd never manage to track it down. Perhaps my expectations had been raised to high but I didn't enjoy it as much as other Fen stories, such as Glimpses of the Moon which I think is hilarious. This one didn't amuse me as much. Fen himself is as entertaining as every and some of the minor characters were very well done, but some of t ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Incorrect book cover? 3 34 Jan 08, 2013 04:20PM  
English Mysteries...: August 2012 - The Case of the Gilded Fly 109 251 Oct 21, 2012 11:55PM  
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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...

Other Books in the Series

Gervase Fen (1 - 10 of 11 books)
  • Holy Disorders (Gervase Fen, #2)
  • The Moving Toyshop (Gervase Fen, #3)
  • Swan Song (Gervase Fen, #4)
  • Love Lies Bleeding (Gervase Fen, #5)
  • Buried for Pleasure (Gervase Fen, #6)
  • Frequent Hearses (Gervase Fen, #7)
  • The Long Divorce (Gervase Fen, #8)
  • Beware of the Trains (Gervase Fen, #9)
  • The Glimpses of the Moon (Gervase Fen, #10)
  • Fen Country:  Twenty-Six Stories Featuring Gervase Fen (Gervase Fen, #11)

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