The Case of the Gilded Fly by Edmund Crispin (1944)

Another locked room mystery read in preparation for Bodies from the Library but this is the weakest book so far: the locked room scenario is not as rigorous as it might have been and the comedy is not as funny as I had hoped.

The first chapter is reminiscent of Green for Danger as the reader is introduced to eleven passengers travelling to Oxford by rail before being informed that shortly three of them will be dead from violence.

A repertory company is going to put on the latest play by the celebrated writer Robert Warner and it is deliberately clear which member of the company is to play the part of first victim. No one is that sorry when she dies and perhaps it would have been better if the police had stuck their initial view of suicide before Gervase Fen gives several reasons why that is unlikely.

Fen is self-described as “the only literary critic turned detective in the whole of fiction”. Appropriately he admits to knowing Gideon Fell, another self-confessed character in a book, and I am sure the shared initials are no coincidence – I have previously got them muddled up in my head when reading a Crispin short story.

In this story Fen is very arrogant as although he knows exactly who has committed the murder, for purely selfish reasons he keeps this information to himself, which allows a second murder to be committed, which he claims couldn’t have been predicted.

The locked room trick used here is neat, although it put me in mind of a complaint that I recently read on another blog but I can’t remember if that was in relation to this book, but it certainly would apply.

I will come back to Crispin again as I did enjoy Love Lies Bleeding and I already had a copy of The Moving Toyshop which I will be re-reading before JJ does the next in his series of Spoiler Warnings at The Invisible Event.

Vintage Mystery Challenge

Fulfils “What – An animal in the title”.




3 thoughts on “The Case of the Gilded Fly by Edmund Crispin (1944)”

  1. the locked room scenario is not as rigorous as it might have been and the comedy is not as funny as I had hoped.

    Yeah, that’s fair. He got funnier — Moving Toyshop, Love Lies Bleeding — and more rigorous — Swan Song, Holy Disorders — and sometimes it’s difficult to see the reputation an author has from their debut. Hopefully you’ll find TMT to your liking…if not, try SS…and if you don’t like that…give up!


    1. Loves Lies Bleeding I liked a lot and I have read The Moving Toyshop before but remember nothing about it apart from the Turn Left quote. Here I think my main problem was that most of the characters were quite dislikable.


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