29
Jun
11

CR3 #55: The Case of the Guilded Fly by Edmund Crispin

This is another work in my summer mystery series. Set in the late 30s in England, it’s sort of an upper-crust society murder. The main character (the Watson, of the piece) is journalist Nigel Blake, on holiday to his college town of Oxford. Although the narration is a third-person limited-omniscient, Nigel is character who does most of the heavy lifting. The main detective is Gervase Fen, a professor of English literature, a friend of Nigel’s who has done some detecting before. The rest of the characters are members of a repertory theater company, gathered with the playwright, his companion, the Oxford organist, and several other hangers-on, all of whom become suspects when a widely disliked member of the company is murdered days before opening night.

The mystery is quite twisty, and I couldn’t figure it out until the end when it was all laid out for me. I did have trouble for a while keeping all the characters straight, as there are eleven or twelve of them, and several are very similar. There were times when things got a bit dull, since it was just page after page of characters speaking to one another about what had already happened. There was not much action of any kind in it.

I know this book is part of the “Golden Age” of mysteries, but it was just slightly too boring for me. I’m not saying I won’t try another mystery by Crispin, as he may have worked out the problems in later works. However, I’m not inclined to ever read this one again.

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