The Case of the Gilded Fly by Edmund Crispin

The continued wanderings of a newly minted librarian


Crispin, E. (1954). The case of the gilded fly. New York: Felony and Mayhem Press.

Many of you are probably familiar with the uber famous librarian, Nancy Pearl. She recently did a segment on NPR’s morning edition in which she highlighted some mystery stories. I was able to get my hands on one of them, The Case of the Gilded Fly by Edmund Crispin, and thoroughly enjoyed it. As Nancy Pearl mentioned it is very Agatha Christie-ish. All the clues and characters are laid out for the reader so one can make an attempt to solve the mystery oneself.

The Case of the Gilded Fly takes place in 1940 in Oxford. It features an amateur detective, Gervase Fen, who is an English Professor at Oxford. The mystery is about the death of an actress (Yseut Haskell) whose body is found in the room of the Oxford organist/student and choirmaster (Donald Fellowes). The story is told from the point of view of Nigel Blake who is one of Gervase Fen’s former students returning to Oxford for a brief visit. Blake is a journalist working in London and acts like a Watson to Fen’s Holmes. Blake has all the clues and in fact is the one who passes them on to Fen, but he is unable himself to piece together the clues and figure out who murdered Yseut. After the first murder, Donald is also murdered but this is not quite as mysterious.

I am going to have to try and read another Edmund Crispin mystery featuring Gervase Fen and see if they continue to be as enjoyable as this one was.