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The Case of the Gilded Fly

(Gervase Fen #1)

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  2,288 ratings  ·  290 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

Paperback, Felony & Mayhem Edition, 237 pages
Published June 2005 by Felony & Mayhem (first published 1944)
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3.54  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,288 ratings  ·  290 reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
Nov 30, 2014 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
Feb 20, 2011 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.
Feb 19, 2016 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
Bill  Kerwin

This first detective novel by Edmund Crispin (nom de plume of composer Robert Bruce Montgomery) has all the characteristics beloved by fans of his masterpiece The Moving Toyshop: the hothouse Oxford University atmosphere, the ornate and impish prose style, the bewildering superabundance of literary allusion, and that memorable—if not quite beloved—character, the eccentric English professor (and amateur detective) Gervase Fen.

When actress Iseult is found shot in the head with a pistol days before
Aug 13, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery, 3-star, hist-myst
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
May 03, 2011 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
Mar 05, 2015 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
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
Dannii Elle
This classic crime delivered all of the murderous puzzling and socially political scheming that I had anticipated, and was as an intriguing and engaging read because of it. The artistic individuals that littered the text also added to my interest, as did the academic Oxford setting.

I did, however, find the actual crime to be less convoluted than I had early on anticipated and I guessed at many of the narrative twists prior to their unveiling in the story-line. I also found the lead detective for
Jan 17, 2012 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
Jun 02, 2015 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
Dec 18, 2011 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
Abigail Bok
Jul 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Case of the Gilded Fly is the first of “Edmund Crispin’s” (Bruce Montgomery’s) Gervase Fen novels, written when he was quite young. It has all the virtues and flaws of youth—exuberant energy, confidence, overreach.

The tale begins with a number of people traveling on the train from London to Oxford, where a playwright is going to stage his newest play. Many are the labyrinthine connections among the characters laid out at the opening—the sheer number and complexity of their intersections was

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
Feb 20, 2013 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
Intriguing Golden Age mystery set in Oxford in 1940. The story opens by introducing eleven characters as they arrive in Oxford by train - some are academics at the University, others are involved with a play that the local repertory company will be putting on in the city. The mystery unfolds through the eyes of one of the characters, journalist Nigel Blake - he is visiting his former tutor Gervase Fen and also decides to see the rehearsals for the play.

The murder victim is Yseut, one of the act
La trama detectivesca es entretenida aunque seguramente no la recordaré por mucho tiempo. Lo que más me ha gustado ha sido la ambientación en ese Oxford de los años 40 con la localización universitaria y la teatral. El libro está plagadito de referencias literarias de las que sólohe podido pillar una ínfima parte. Por eso recomiendo estas ediciones de Impedimenta en laS que están todas explicadas a través de las notas a pie de página e incluso un postfacio firmado por el también traductor jose c ...more
Libros Prestados
Jan 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Videoreseña del libro:

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
May 20, 2016 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
Jul 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Guardian praise Edmund Crispin's series of crime novels as 'a ludicrous literary farce', and The Times call the author 'one of the last exponents of the classical English detective story... elegant, literate, and funny.' In this, the first novel in the series, a 'pretty but spiteful young actress' named Yseut Haskell, who has a 'talent for destroying men's lives', is discovered dead in a University room 'just metres from unconventional Oxford don Gervase Fen's office.' In rather an amusing a ...more
Encarni Prados
Me da pena decir que una novela negra no me ha llenado, en este caso, así ha sido. El excéntrico protagonista no me ha gustado y, para colmo, la resolución del caso, el comportamiento de los protagonistas y el motivo, tampoco. Lo siento pero este no lo recomiendo.
Jan 05, 2010 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
Simon Mcleish
Nov 21, 2012 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
Paul Bowler
Aug 24, 2015 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
Sep 26, 2009 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
Dr Zorlak
Apr 03, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
Una soberana pérdida de tiempo. La traducción apesta. El crimen es una idiotez. La revelación, ridícula. Gervase Fen es un cretino. Esta novela no es más insoportable, porque no es más larga.
Mariano Hortal
Publicado en

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
Jan C
Aug 10, 2017 rated it liked it
For the most part I enjoyed this book. Not sure why I couldn't get into it the first time I picked this up. But the first few pages seemed to just drag. Not so this time.

It starts out on a train trip to Oxford. The author lets us know that Yseut is a thoroughly bad character by showing us the thoughts of the other passengers who are on the same journey. The cast of a new play is going to Oxford for an out of town production. Apparently Robert Warner hadn't done so well in his previous show. Nige
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
Robin Stevens
A cleverly-plotted Golden Age mystery that fascinated but bothered me - it's got some difficult attitudes to women for a reader in 2017, and smart as this is I couldn't quite look past them ... 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!*
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Reading the Detec...: The Case of the Gilded Fly - SPOILER thread 29 29 Aug 18, 2017 02:46PM  
Goodreads Librari...: Incorrect book cover? 3 35 Jan 08, 2013 04:20PM  
English Mysteries...: August 2012 - The Case of the Gilded Fly 109 265 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

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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