Friday, February 17, 2012

The Moving Toyshop (1946)

This one's been on my radar for a while. It makes many a best mysteries of all time list and is a particular favorite of P. D. James. It also happens to be dedicated to Philip Larkin, which puts it in excellent company with Lucky Jim, the only other book I know dedicated to my favorite poet.

Edmund Crispin is the pseudonym of Bruce Montgomery, an Oxford friend of Larkin's. The book is very much a comedy mystery in which a pre-war poet and professor uncover a just barely-believable crime. It's very dry, and a little too ridiculous for my tastes but I enjoyed it, especially some of the literary banter.

Interesting note: the penultimate chapter involves a chase in which the murderer is cornered on an out-of-control Merry Go Round. Hitchcock clearly ripped this off for his ending of Strangers on a Train, even the part with the conductor sliding underneath to get to the shut-off mechanism. Did Crispin get any credit for this, I wonder.

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