Stars, Starlets, Floozies, and factotums to the film world - Gervase, Fen suspects them all....
Gervase Fen is more at home in his ivory tower than in a London film studio, but Murder can take place anywhere, and aspiring actress Gloria Scott's suicide definitely looks like murder. Oxford don Gervase Fen is at the film studios to advise about a film biography of Alexander Pope. Gloria Scott appears to have had little reason for wanting to kill herself by jumping off Waterloo bridge, but someone has taken great pains to hide Gloria's real identity, and Gervase Fen's detective nose begins to twitch. When a lecherous cameraman is poisoned before his very eyes, Fen finds himself 'consulting' on a far more familiar matter: murder.
©2012 Edmund Crispin (P)2012 Audible Ltd
In earlyish 20th century England a young and ambitious actress is victimized by political and sexual politics. From this evil deed a tide of murder and revenge is unleashed. The egotistical, striving world of film is evoked in wry observant tones as we meet various eccentric characters, most of whom have deep secrets. For lovers of British Golden Age mysteries, this will be pure catnip! Superb narration.
Among my favorites
There are myriad quotes worth remembering, the first that I recall was something about the writing of Henry James being appropriate for classification as a dangerous narcotic because of it's soporific qualities. The story is rich with such gems.
Never have listened to Philip Bird recordings before, but plan to listen to many more. Wonderful, wonderful reader. Absolutely made all the difference to me. In fact, I have been trying to like Edmund Crispin off and on for some time. People who like the kinds of books I do (Christie, Marsh, Sayers, Innes, etc) always seem to like Crispin as well, and yet I could not enjoy either The Gilded Fly, or the Moving (Movable? Can't remember) Toyshop. I now believe it was because I had not heard Philip Bird narrate them. Some authors are better heard aloud, and some are better read in print, of course, but additionally (as all devoted audio book readers know) a narrator can make or break a story in a profound way. What Philip Bird has done for me is make this book come alive and bring out the kindness of Crispin's outlook, which is subtle, and makes all the difference to me. He might even be able to save Gladys Mitchell for me if given the chance, who knows? Plus-so very important- he gets all the jokes, and makes sure they are delivered correctly. CRUCIAL, especially to a book like this where the humor is subtle as well, and could easily be missed by a reader not familiar with the material or not interested enough to take the time to understand it. On a scale of 1-5 I give the team of Crispin and Bird an 11!!!
I did, and then I listened to it again.
The maze story from M. R. James "Mr Humphreys and His Inheritance" makes a FABULOUS and most disturbing appearance towards the end of this book. Lovely!!!
I like mysteries (particularly British ones, historical fiction and nonfiction, science fiction and fantasy.
Crispin's real name was Robert Bruce Montgomery. He earned a BA in modern languages from St John's College, Oxford. He first earned recognition for composing vocal and choral music. Then he began to write scores for the British movie industry in addition to his mystery novels.
This was his seventh novel and I think it's pretty clear that he is more interested in depicting the (rather unpleasant) quirks of the British film industry than in whodunnit. In fact, I rather suspect he wrote himself into a corner in this one and had to break one of the classic mystery rules in order to solve the problem. But I like Crispin even when he's not at the top of this form and spent a very pleasant Sunday listening to this book.
So I'm not recommending this because it's a clever mystery. I'm recommending it because Crispin describes in an entertaining fashion the post WWII film business in England (which was different from what was going on in Hollywood at the same time and yet curiously the same).
It's read by Philip Bird who does a great job with what is essentially period voices.
"A Very Pretty Little Mystery"
Edmund Crispin always delivered and this book is no exception. The maze sequence towards the end of the book is absolute magic and provides some hints as well. This narrator is perfect for Fen and the voice characterisation is perfect. Crispin seemed to have an aversion to hanging his murderers, so there is always an unusual ending. (I need to do some research into Crispin to find out if he was against capital punishment.) All in all, an extremely riveting listen.
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