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Swan Song

(Gervase Fen #4)

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  971 ratings  ·  70 reviews
Before odious Edwin Shorthouse can sing the lead in the first Oxford post-war Die Meistersinger, someone kills him in his own locked dressing room. Gervase Fen, eccentric professor of English Literature with a passion for amateur detecting, is on the case. American title is Dead and Dumb.
Paperback, 215 pages
Published October 1st 2006 by Felony & Mayhem (first published 1947)
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3.95  · 
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 ·  971 ratings  ·  70 reviews

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I do love me an academic mystery. And Edmund Crispin's delightful series starring Gervase Fen--the Oxford don and quirky amateur detective--is a marvelous example of academic mysteries done right. There is witty, sparkling dialogue. There is intellectual name-dropping--"There goes C. S. Lewis," said Fen suddenly. "It must be Tuesday." There is unashamed references to fellow Golden Age sleuths (H.M., Mrs. Bradley and Albert Campion). There is the entertainingly mad brother of the deceased. There
Después del placer que supuso leer ‘La juguetería errante’, vuelvo con otra novela del británico Edmund Crispin, protagonizada por el excéntrico profesor de Oxford y detective aficionado Gervase Fen. Las novelas de Crispin están llenas de ironía y humor, y en ellas asistimos a las deducciones de tal peculiar personaje.

‘El canto del cisne’ nos propone otro crimen a puerta cerrada, improbable desde cualquier punto de vista, y con múltiples sospechosos. Nos encontramos en Oxford, en los ensayos de
Isabel G L
No me ha gustado mucho, y no tanto porque sea un mal libro (que no lo es) como por lo mal que ha sobrevivido al paso del tiempo. Ni le he terminado de pillar el punto al sentido del humor, ni le he cogido el ritmo a la novela que, para que nos entendamos, parecía un Cluedo.
Jun 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Un giallo poco noto di Edmund Crispin ma che soddisfa pienamente gli standard di genere e che è esemplificativo della capacità di Crispin di esprimere innovazione nella tradizione della detection inglese. In questo caso, titolato in italiano "Il canto del cigno" il professor Fen, chiaramente ispirato dalla figura dell'eroe di John Dickson Carr, Gideon Fell, dipana l'intricata matassa di due morti sospette di cui una avvenuta in una camera chiusa, situazione che ricorre ciclicamente nelle avventu ...more
Swan Song by Edmund Crispin is the fourth Gervase Fen mystery I've read. The first three were hit and miss. I liked two and one I wasn't all that thrilled with. It may be that I'm getting used to Crispin's style of story - telling but for whatever reason, this was the Fen mystery I've enjoyed the most.

The story focuses on an opera company who have just moved up to Oxford to practice and then perform Wagner's Meistersinger. One member, Adam Langley, has recently married, a budding author, Elizabe
Jun 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Written in 1946, this book describes the first production, in England after the war, of Die Meistersinger (banned during the war because the Nazis loved Wagner) and several murders that occur during rehearsals. It is a near-perfect example of the old-fashioned English murder mystery at its best. A locked room murder, an eccentric Oxford don as the sleuth, admirably witty, romantic, or waspish suspects. I especially loved it because, even though I caught one of the most important clues early on, ...more
S Dizzy
Jan 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although I love the eccentric Gervase Fen, I think in this story, one of my favorite characters who doesn't even figure prominently in the story, is John Barfield, who seemed never not to be eating. It's hilarious that when he enters scenes, he seems to be consuming food.

I really appreciate the way Crispin stated and described things -"And the situation was this, that she had fallen inexplicably and quite unexpectedly in love with an operatic tenor...How it came about she was never able clearly
Robin Stevens
Sep 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A charming detective story that's also a really clever impossible crime. Set in an opera company, and mostly in Oxford (the characters take tea at the Randolph and drink at the Bird and Baby!), it's a really fun, fast and enjoyable read, and the denouement is extremely smart. 12+

*Please note: this review is meant as a recommendation only. Please do not use it in any marketing material, online or in print, without asking permission from me first. Thank you!*
Oct 28, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
Ett ”closed room mystery”, där en operasångare hittas hängd på teatern och Gervase Fen ska lösa gåtan.

Själva gåtan var bra uttänkt, men boken är skriven 1947 och det är lite komplicerat språk, vilket gör att den tar för lång tid att läsa. Annars gillar jag Gervase Fen som karaktär, och det är småroligt i dialogen.
Nov 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Después de haberme leído y reído con la juguetería errante, no podía menos que leer esta novela de este detective aficionado tan excéntrico, por eso se lo pedí a mi amigo invisible.

Han pasado unos añitos después de la juguetería errante, y si dije que en la anterior novela el coprotagonista era la literatura, en este, casi estoy por decir, que es la II guerra mundial, encontraremos varias referencias a ella a lo largo de la novela:

Que en un mundo en el que los físicos atómicos pasean libremente
Tony Renner
Mar 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Edmund Crispin's Swan Song (1947) features Gervase Fen for the 4th time in what proves to be as much of a romantic comedy as a murder mystery, though Fen does solve an ingenious murder.

Barzun and Taylor's A Catalogue of Crime (1971) says

"Educated at Merchant Taylors' and St. John's, Oxford, Edmund Crispin is a man of letters and a musician (organist and composer) as well as one of the masters of modern detective fiction since his 22nd year. Reserved in manner, but a charming conversationalist an
Jul 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book deserves five stars for the totally ingenious locked room murder alone. Edwin Shorthouse - opera singer - is a totally dislikeable corpse.. The whole cast of the Wagner opera in which he has a part have motives for disposing of him though to many - including the police - it appears to be suicide because no one could have committed the crime.

Of course Gervase Fen discovers a solution to the mystery of how anyone could have done with a little help from a skeleton and the police. I don't
Christine Cody
Jan 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What I enjoy so much about Crispin’s work is that he seems to enjoy writing the books so very much. His books reveal joyfulness in the writing and in the humor woven throughout. Gervase Fen is of course a unique and thoroughly wonderful protagonist, which makes these stories on a par with the very best mysteries of all time. Once Fen enters the story, I know I’m going to be on the right path for the rest of the book. Although the editors tout this as a great locked room mystery, it’s much more t ...more
Aug 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics
Crispin's classic 1940's mystery is both witty and wise. And, a lot of fun to read.

The writing is engaging, the characters are well-written, and half the fun of this book is that not a soul is sorry that the deceased has died. Everyone wished him to the devil (and that is most likely where he landed).

Other than "who dun it," the mystery to me as I romped through this book is where did Gervase Fen (the amateur detective who solves the crime) get the authority to interfere to spectacularly in the
Feb 04, 2017 rated it liked it
He got me! I am not usually fooled by the author, but I have to admit that this time, I was! However, at least I figured out one of the murder weapons, if not the person who applied it.
The devices used for the main murder (there are two deaths) were ingenious, but also too complex for me to think of or even grasp fully when explained. I felt a little bit cheated due to the intricacy of the method, but the author played fair concerning murderer and motive.
Gervase Fen as an erudite private detecti
Jan 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
What fun a read this was! I loved Fen, a detective with absolutely no eccentricities but the mild ones that pass off a normal. I didn't realize that I'd find this so refreshing and I love Holmes and Poirot, think of that!

The language was what blew me off. I didn't feel I was reading a mystery. It was more a literary read. Beautifully written, simple, nothing overly complicated that leads you to think anything at all. The mystery itself.. well, I'd have liked something a little more challenging.
Suzie Grogan
Dec 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I do love Gervase Fen - academic, amateur detective and always finding himself consulted in convoluted crimes seemingly with the support of the local police. This one is especially good, I think. There are good strong female characters (albeit ones jolly keen to get married), lots of witty references to other fictional detectives and many great one liners. The mystery aspect is well done too, if a little hard to imagine at the end. Great stuff.
Rosemary Orme
Nov 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018challenge
A wonderful series of old fashioned who dun its, recently discovered. Beautifully written, using erudite words I needed to look up! A joy to read. This one centred around Wagner's Die Meistersinger. Written in 1947, the social mores of the time were fascinating in a sociological sense. Wagner's music had been unacceptable in war time Britain. Quirky, diverting and enchanting. Must seek out more Gervase Fen mysteries.
This is my first Gervase Fen book and I rather enjoyed it. Mr. Fen doesn’t show up in the story until chapter 6, the first five chapters instead introduce us to Adam, a prime suspect, Eleanor, a crime writer married to Adam, and Edwin Shorthouse, a man who no one seems to like. It is the last who turns up dead, apparently of suicide, hanging in the theater in which he has caused so many problems.
Sep 23, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed the book until the end.

The solutions of these types of stories are just too ridiculous. I can't imagine anyone going to all that trouble. When did he do his research? Where was his spouse? How did he happen to know....well you get it. Just too far fetched for me. It really spoils the book to, in my opinion, really have no ending. I'd prefer a more likely scenario.
Carol Berkman
Oct 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Charming but fantastic.

Not much more to say beyond my title - Crispin is a wonderful writer with a wry sense of humor and grand delivery, but the solution to the crime was too too odd. Nonetheless I'm off in search of more by the same author.
Oct 14, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Entertaining and tightly-plotted murder mystery. Wagner fans will enjoy the numerous references to his works and notable performers of them. I also enjoyed the challenging vocabulary and had to look up numerous words such as heirophantically, objurgatory, exiguous, epicene, and atavism.
Jun 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
This had one of the most interesting solutions/conclusions I've ever seen in all my years of reading mystery fiction.
Buzz Mauro
Sep 17, 2018 rated it liked it
I like Edmund Crispin's mysteries. This one was fun. Fun highfalutin language, sort of snooty but ultimately pretty down-to-earth detective, and convoluted locked-room mystery with lots of suspects.
Suzy Dominey
a period whodunnit (after the war) with not too much gore,so quite pleasant reading .
Mar 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
Short on the literary jokes, long on music. Listened to part of Wagner's Das Rheingold for ambience. Parts of this are far-fetched. Still a merry experience to read Edmund Crispin though.
May 20, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Un caso entretenido que lo disfrutarán los entendidos de la ópera, pues ese es el ambiente donde se desarrolla la acción.
Alan Trewartha
Nov 05, 2018 rated it liked it
The mechanics of the not-locked-as-such room mystery were a bit obvious, though I didn't get the whodunnit at all, which had a nice enough twist to it. Shame he died at the start.
Terri Colangelo
Jan 05, 2019 rated it liked it
Rated 6.5 out of 10
Jul 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: detective
Crispy from Crispin !
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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

Other books in the series

Gervase Fen (1 - 10 of 11 books)
  • The Case of the Gilded Fly (Gervase Fen, #1)
  • Holy Disorders (Gervase Fen, #2)
  • The Moving Toyshop (Gervase Fen, #3)
  • 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)