Love Lies Bleeding by Edmund Crispin

The continued wandering of a newly minted librarian


Crispin, E. (1948). Love lies bleeding. New York: Walker and Company.

Love Lies Bleeding is one of Crispin’s earlier works. It is not quite as hilarious as Glimpses of the Moon, but still has a good bit of humor. This mystery takes place at a boys’ public school (Castrevenford School), and features a missing schoolgirl from the neighboring girls’ school, two murdered school masters, a murdered old woman, stolen acid from the chemistry lab, a stolen gun, and an old, homicidal bloodhound who saves the day while ultimately sacrificing himself.

The two murdered school masters are a mystery because of no apparent motive until it comes to light that a local old woman may have found buried in her Elizabethan cottage some letters, an old miniature painting, and a manuscript of Shakespeare’s lost play Love’s Labour’s Won. This then proves to be the motive for the killings. One school master was going to buy the manuscript (worth millions) from the unsuspecting woman for a mere 100 pounds! The other school master overheard this and said it was unfair fraud and he would do what he could to make sure she knew the real value of what she found.

So one school master murders the other but is then himself murdered by someone he told about the manuscript. The first master is also responsible for the chemistry theft and gun theft and for the disappearance and attempted murder of the girl. Another Castrevenford employee is the one who murdered the murderous school master and the old woman and also attempted to kill the school girl and our hero, Gervase Fen, who was of course solving the mystery. They were saved by the heroic dog, and all ended reasonably well. Unfortunately the Shakespearian letters were burned as was the majority of the manuscript except for one surviving page.

This is one of those “locked room” type of mysteries where all the clues are provided and the bodies pile up. It is solvable if only one asks the right questions and realizes that everything is interconnected.