The Case of the Gilded Fly (Gervase Fen #1)
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...more
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....more
It's been a long time s...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
The actual details o...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
I am assuming that Crispin's books get better, but I just couldn't get into this one. Oh well.
Started well with all the characters outlined, plenty of intrigue, plenty of motivations, plenty of bite. Got a great sense of place, with wartime Oxford, the bubble worlds of repertory theatre and academia.
I enjoyed the period setting and the language, the classic structure, the poetic and classical quotations.
But in the end, th...more
The wren goes to't, and the small gilded fly
Does lecher in my sight.
Let copulation thrive;" - King Lear 4:4
Many quotations, except vital title reference. Gilded-fly Egyptian ring doesn't fit victim Yseult, jammed on quickly after shooting. Oxford 1940 theatre fan investigators arrive by train with 8 others. Lots of premonition "within the week .. three .. died by violence" p16. Can discount sleuths: lit Prof Gervase Fen, his friend Chief Constable Sir Richard Fr...more
“Tell me,” he said, “your opinions on the ethics of murder.”...more
Nicholas looked at him in silence for a moment. “I believe killing to be an inescapable necessity of the world in which we live, the abominable, sentimental, mob-ru
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...more
There wasn't a sympathetic character among the lot, including the amateur sleuth, an Oxford don, who has all of the arrogant self-assurance of Sherlock Holmes with none of the charm. He has grown on me somewhat, however, after learning more about his family (wife and small children) and his habits, and seeing more of how he goes about solving a crime.
Part of what aggravates about this book is that Profess...more
I guessed who dunnit mainly on psychological factors but not the all-important 'how', despite the fact that all the clues were there for me to see. It...more
The title comes from Act IV, Scene 6 of "King Lear." Lear says, in part, " . . . Die for adultery? No. The wren goes to 't, and the small gilded fly does lecher in my sight . . . " We find this out from detective Gervase Fen on the very last page, or rather...more
"The Case of the Gilded Fly" is, as you can see, the first in this quirky, literate series by Crispin, whose real name was Bruce Montgomery and whose real profession was composer.
The setting is Oxford during World War II. The characters belong to a repertory theater company. The outsiders are primaril...more