Richard Cadogan, poet and would-be bon vivant, arrives for what he thinks will be a relaxing holiday in the city of dreaming spires. Late one night, however, he discovers the dead body of an elderly woman lying in a toyshop and is coshed on the head. When he comes to, he finds that the toyshop has disappeared and been replaced with a grocery store. The police are understandably skeptical of this tale but Richard's former schoolmate, Gervase Fen (Oxford professor and amateur detective), knows that truth is stranger than fiction (in fiction, at least). Soon the intrepid duo are careening around town in hot pursuit of clues but just when they think they understand what has happened, the disappearing-toyshop mystery takes a sharp turn...
Erudite, eccentric and entirely delightful – Before Morse, Oxford's murders were solved by Gervase Fen, the most unpredictable detective in classic crime fiction.
About the author
Robert Bruce Montgomery was born in Buckinghamshire in 1921, and was a golden age crime writer as well as a successful concert pianist and composer. Under the pseudonym Edmund Crispin, he wrote nine detective novels and 42 short stories, combining farcical situations with literary references and sharply observed characterisation. His professional film scores included the well-known scores for the Carry On series. Montgomery graduated from St. John’s College, Oxford in 1943 and was part of a famous literary circle including Kingsley Amis and Philip Larkin. In addition to his reputation as a leader in the field of mystery genre, he was the regular crime-fiction reviewer for the Sunday Times from 1967 and contributed to many periodicals and newspapers and edited science-fiction anthologies. After the golden years of the 1950s he retired from the limelight to live out a hermetic existence in Totnes in Devonshire until his death in 1978.