Swan Song – Edmund Crispin (1947)

It’s been a few years since I read anything by Edmund Crispin.  Following a bout of eagerly purchasing most of his limited library, I actually got around to reading him in the form of The Moving Toyshop.  It’s an ok book to be sure, but I was left more puzzled by why it’s so well known.  I followed it up with Love Lies Bleeding, which never captured my imagination, and felt entirely forgettable even as I read it.

I’ve always heard good things about Swan Song, and having acquired what I deemed to be the most desirable edition (Felony and Mayhem, 2006), I promptly sat on it for two years.  You see, I have this stack of books that I’m “going to read next” – Peter Dickinson’s The Poisoned Oracle, Paul Gallico’s Too Many Ghosts, Michael Innes’ Hamlet Revenge, and roughly a dozen others – that has become a sort of book graveyard.  I really do intend to read these next, but somehow when I go to pick my next read, it never comes off this pile.  Swan Song was trapped in that perdition as well, and it’s time to break free.

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Love Lies Bleeding – Edmund Crispin (1948)

LoveLiesBleedingA while back I got awfully excited about Edmund Crispin.  I had read a number of reviews of his books and determined that this was an author I wanted to read.  A few bulk purchases later and I had most of his catalogue on my shelf.  My original intention was to start with the well regarded Swan Song, but instead I elected to go with his most famous book – The Moving Toyshop.

Although it was an enjoyable read, I didn’t quite get what the fuss was about.  And who knows, maybe there wasn’t really any fuss to begin with.  The Moving Toyshop was a fine book – clever, well paced, and overall fun.  It just never quite delivered in the mystery department in the way that I was hoping.

For my second encounter with Crispin, I decided to go with Love Lies Bleeding.  For one, it seems to be regarded as one of his stronger books.  For two… well, there’s just something fascinating about the title.

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The Moving Toyshop – Edmund Crispin (1946)

MovingToyShopI’ve been collecting Edmund Crispin books for several months now without actually reading them.  It all started with Swan Song, frequently cited as his best work, but I’ve for some reason held off on reading it.  Then I started collecting more of his books – The Moving Toyshop, Love Lies Bleeding, The Case of the Gilded Fly, Glimpses of the Moon, Buried for Pleasure.  It’s probably a questionable pursuit, collecting an author without actually having read them.

With a wide range of titles presented to me, I shook my instinct to go with Swan Song and instead went against my nature by selecting THE BOOK – The Moving Toyshop.  I refer to it that way because this is the famous one – Crispin’s version of The Hollow Man or Murder on the Orient Express.  The Moving Toyshop seems to be the “of course you’ve read this one” title when it comes to Crispin, and so I figured I might as well use it as my springboard.

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