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The Moving Toyshop | [Edmund Crispin]

The Moving Toyshop

Arriving late at night for a holiday in Oxford, the poet Richard Cadogan stumbles across the body of a dead woman in a toyshop. When he returns with the police, the toyshop is a grocery store - and there is no sign of the corpse.
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Publisher's Summary

Arriving late at night for a holiday in Oxford, the poet Richard Cadogan stumbles across the body of a dead woman in a toyshop. When he returns with the police, the toyshop is a grocery store, and there is no sign of the corpse.

Cadogan joins forces with the eccentric Professor Gervase Fen to solve the mystery. Battling with limerick clues, an unusual will, an impossible murder, and disappearing evidence, the bookish duo rampage through the university town, determined to find answers.

Crispin's most famous novel, The Moving Toyshop is fast-paced, funny and full of entertaining literary puzzles.

©1946 Rights Limited a Chorion company; (P)2008 Isis Publishing Ltd

What the Critics Say

"A clever, funny and rightly famous story." (The Times, London)
"Engaging and mischievous." (Independent)
"A master of the whodunit - he combines a flawless plot, witty dialogue, and a touch of hilarity." - New York Times

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (119 )
5 star
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3.9 (61 )
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4.2 (60 )
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3 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    David H Penhook, VA, USA 04-16-08
    David H Penhook, VA, USA 04-16-08 Member Since 2003
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    "Mystery as comedy"

    Edmund Crispin has a delightful way of presenting a real puzzler with never a dull moment. Since his "detective" [Gervase Finn] is an Oxford don of English lit, there are no lack of literary references [which he helpfully explains for the novice.] The toyshop of the title is first discovered by a poet friend of Finn who is then forced to run after the don in order to clear his own name. There is a delightful Keystone Cops chase all around Oxford that will have you in stitches. But there are enough murders and slight of hand to keep armchair detectives on their toes. I read this book some years ago, but having this reader take such delight in each character made this a much more pleasant romp. Crispin doesn't take himself too seriously even poking fun at himself in the converstions.

    I am fond of British mystery and I highly recommend this. Am currently downloading another Crispin.

    20 of 20 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Leslie Germantown, TN, United States 03-29-09
    Leslie Germantown, TN, United States 03-29-09
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    "Great writing and narrator"

    I also enjoyed this book and the narrator's character voices and enthusiasm. Those who enjoy P.G. Wodehouse and Terry Pratchett probably would enjoy this book. Part mystery, part light-hearted comedy, with lots of wit and observations about human nature.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Coffee Lover Huntsville, AL 09-29-10
    Coffee Lover Huntsville, AL 09-29-10 Member Since 2004
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    "The best fun ever"

    I only wish Edmund Crispin had written more mysteries. Every one of the few he did write are absolute treasures and The Moving Toyshop is probably the best among those. If you have not read Crispin's Gervase Fen series, you owe it to yourself to remedy that situation immediately.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nancy J Tornado Alley OK 03-17-13
    Nancy J Tornado Alley OK 03-17-13 Member Since 2011

    Mystery reader (especially series) and Austen lover

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    "The Mystery as Screwball Comedy"

    Edmund Crispin wrote 9 novels in the 1940s and 50s featuring Gervase Fen, an eccentric, often outrageous, sometimes absent-minded, arrogant and madcap Oxford don and lecturer in English literature. In The Moving Toyshop, a friend of Fen's discovers a dead body in a toyshop, but when he returns with the police not only is the body gone, but the toyshop has become a grocery. He seeks Fen's help, and what follows is a strange, crazy adventure involving Fen, his friend, a beautiful young woman, a solicitor (lawyer), various villains, and a large crowd of Oxford undergrads. The murder turns out to be connected to the disposition of the estate of a recently deceased rich old woman.

    The story is sometimes tedious, but by and large it is fast moving and very entertaining. I enjoyed the moments when Fen and his friend speak directly about Crispin and Crispin's publisher. Perhaps my favorite moments are when Fen and friend play games involving naming "Impossible to Read Books" and "Characters Impossible to Like," and proceed to name a few of each. The finale of the actual mystery includes a chase through the town of Oxford involving many people, and in atmosphere could be compared to the Keystone Cops, or in a way to the chase in "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World."

    These books are probably not for everyone. Like slapstick, either you like it or you don't. But if you do, Gervase Fen can be great fun.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charleen alameda, CA, United States 04-30-12
    Charleen alameda, CA, United States 04-30-12 Member Since 2011
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    "They don't write books like this anymore"
    What made the experience of listening to The Moving Toyshop the most enjoyable?

    The best part of this book is the language (bring a dictionary). In a world of the 2000 word vocabulary this book is a blessed oddity. Crispin writes glorious and intellegent prose. The stories (there are 9 novels in this series) are a combination of P G Wodehouse and G K Chesterton. The mysteries are not on a par with Agatha Christie's However, no matter what publishers write on book covers, no mysteries are. But the humor is something which can be enjoyed on several levels. I say if you want to read, be entertained, think, and be intellectually stimulated in one sitting then Crispin's Gervase Fen series is for you


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Moving Toyshop?

    The best moments in this book are the times when Fen allows that he is a character in a book and either speaks to his author or tries to change a situation in order to help him. At on point we find Fen speaking to no-one in particular. He is saying" Fen Steps In, The Return of Fen. A Don Dares Death, Blood on The Morterboard..." His friend says, Are you allright" and Fen replies, "I was just was just making up titles for Crispin."


    Which character – as performed by Stephen Thorne – was your favorite?

    I LOVE FEN


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    This is a book you want to listen to all in one sitting, But then you want to listen again because you know there is a wealth of humor you missed the first time.


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marie Woodville, TX, United States 03-15-13
    Marie Woodville, TX, United States 03-15-13 Member Since 2004

    I love mysteries in the style of P.D. James, Rex Stout, Elizabeth Peters, Dave Duncan, etc. I love sci fi written by Issac Asimov (the robot books), Douglas Adams, Jack McDevitt (Alex Benedict series) and Susan Collins. I love fantasy written by Terry Pratchett, and Kim Harrison. I love Kate Morton. I don't like graphic descriptions of violence.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Generally love cozy mysteries..."
    Would you try another book from Edmund Crispin and/or Stephen Thorne?

    This is my second book by Edmund Crispin. My first was Holy Disorders which I rated with only 2 stars. So, no, Crispin, probably not. Stephen Thorne, yes.


    Would you recommend The Moving Toyshop to your friends? Why or why not?

    No. I generally love cozy mysteries. Some of my favorite authors are P. D. James, Rex Stout, Agatha Christie, Jack McDevitt (Alex Benedict), but not, it seems, Edmund Crispin. It simply didn't hold my interest. I rewound continually through the book as my mind wondered off. I didn't care about the characters or the murders.


    What three words best describe Stephen Thorne’s voice?

    Why three words? But, okay, love the accent. Here's another three, strange sounding characters. Maybe another three, would listen again.


    Could you see The Moving Toyshop being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    Yes, one reviewer likened it the Keystone Kops and that seemed appropriate. Better in video form, I should think, minus the literary references.


    Any additional comments?

    I gave it 3 stars because I did listen to the whole book, generally liked the reader, and there was no unnecessarily graphic violence, no torture, no serial killer or lurid sex scenes.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathy Wildwood, MO, United States 05-01-12
    Kathy Wildwood, MO, United States 05-01-12 Member Since 2010

    I love to read, fly and play tennis. I always have a book and an audible book going at the same time. I'm a mystery/thriller junky.

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    "The Moving Toyshop left me with moving feelings"

    There was a lot going on in this story. Lots of twists and turns. I couldn't figure out which way it was going or where it would end. Basically it was okay. I enjoyed it.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barbara Memphis, TN, USA 10-15-08
    Barbara Memphis, TN, USA 10-15-08 Member Since 2008
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    "The Moving Toyshop"

    Had some laugh out loud moments but sometimes a little hard to follow all the characters.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Champaign, IL USA 09-12-13
    Amazon Customer Champaign, IL USA 09-12-13 Member Since 2007
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    "The funniest so far"
    Where does The Moving Toyshop rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Of the three Gervase Fen novels I've read so far (I am taking them in order), this is definitely the best and most engaging. The humor ranges from bone-dry wit to laugh-out-loud slapstick, and yet for all his curmudgeonly demeanor, Fen remains a man of conscience and compassion. I thoroughly enjoyed this one and look forward to Fen's continuing escapades.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Amazingly, in the midst of all the screwball hilarity, Richard Cadogan manages to pull off a brilliant, thoughtful meditation on poetic inspiration.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mama C San Juan Capistrano, California United States 03-29-13
    Mama C San Juan Capistrano, California United States 03-29-13 Member Since 2008
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    "Ho-Hum!"

    I'm not sure what persuaded me to purchase this book, although it was probably a good review. There is no question in my mind that Edmund Crispin's stories are a delight to many mystery readers, it just wasn't my cup of tea. "The Moving Toyshop" belongs to a series of stories about an Oxford don, Gervase Fen, who solves mysteries. The tone is crazy and light-hearted, especially for a murder mystery. In fact, more than once the Keystone Cops came to mind. The mystery is involving enough, but with numerous characters I had a hard time following the protagonist's movements. Towards the end I got bored and only half listened. The narrator was very good, but with many characters, and most of them men, he had a lot of voices to keep track of.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 10 results
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  • Valerie
    Carrickfergus, United Kingdom
    4/16/12
    Overall
    "A good old fashioned "whodunnit""

    Entertaining detective story from a by-gone era. Beautiful use of English, and well crafted. A light-hearted read and I look forward to more.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Matt
    Bourne, United Kingdom
    11/25/11
    Overall
    "A Little Box of Delights?"

    The first Edmund Crispin I read, The Moving Toyshop is a work of whimsy that reminds me a little of Chesterton's "Man Who was Thursday" in style.

    The whodunnit is, whilst clever, actually less interesting to me than the wider narrative, with a dreamlike take on austerity Oxford. The book is more self-aware but noticeably less self-important than other Oxford based dramas I have read from D L Sayers to Dexter.

    The reading by Stephen Thorne is accomplished and appropriate, and the only reason I have not awarded five stars is that this is not my favourite Gervase Fen novel, that honour going to Buried for Pleasure, sadly not currently available on Audible.

    If you like period whodunnits which can raise a chuckle as well as a challenge, then this may well be for you.

    Matt

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Anne
    Hartington, Derbyshire, United Kingdom
    11/20/08
    Overall
    "tedious"

    Maybe this is better in print, but it dragged to the point that I fast forwarded through the second half. Not recommended.

    2 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-3 of 3 results

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