Read Fen Country: Twenty-Six Stories Featuring Gervase Fen by Edmund Crispin Free Online
Book Title: Fen Country: Twenty-Six Stories Featuring Gervase Fen|
The author of the book: Edmund Crispin
Date of issue: April 7th 1981
ISBN 13: 9780140088151
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Reader ratings: 5.1
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 681 KB
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Originally published on my blog here in November 2000.
The description of Fen Country on its cover as twenty six detective stories featuring Gervase Fen is a slight exaggeration; only around half the stories are actually mysteries solved by Crispin's famous detective. They are generally, though, of high quality, and several of them are quite funny.
Writing a mystery in short story format is a difficult art. At novel length, the classic murder myster writer has space to introduce six or seven potential suspects, all with backgrounds making them suspicious and giving them motives for killing the victim, as well as clues to mislead the reader. Many novels have denouements which are longer than any of the stories in this collection. To fit enough into a short story for it to have any chance to compete is very difficult, and efforts by even some of the best known mystery authors just show how hard it is (the short stories of Dorothy L. Sayers are a case in point). The achievements of Arthur Conan Doyle, who wrote so many classic short stories in the Sherlock Holmes canon, are shown in their correct perspective by this. And it is, thankfully, of the Sherlock Holmes stories that the reader of Fen Country is most consistently reminded.
Their structure is very similar, with the detective usually solving the crime by picking up some small detail - and here the puzzles are sufficiently difficult that I would defy the majority of readers to solve any of the mysteries even with this hint.
The most interesting story - not the best, because it is rather obvious - is We Know You're Busy Writing..., which is about the way that people assume that writing is not really work and how frustrating writers find this. The story is one of the amusing ones, and it is probably the most memorable.
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Read information about the authorEdmund Crispin was the pseudonym of (Robert) Bruce Montgomery (1921-1978). His first crime novel and musical composition were both accepted for publication while he was still an undergraduate at Oxford. After a brief spell of teaching, he became a full-time writer and composer (particularly of film music. He wrote the music for six of the Carry On films. But he was also well known for his concert and church music). He also edited science fiction anthologies, and became a regular crime fiction reviewer for The Sunday Times. His friends included Philip Larkin, Kingsley Amis and Agatha Christie.
He had always been a heavy drinker and, unfortunately, there was a long gap in his writing during a time when he was suffering from alcohol problems. Otherwise he enjoyed a quiet life (enlivened by music, reading, church-going and bridge) in Totnes, a quiet corner of Devon, where he resisted all attempts to develop or exploit the district, visiting London as little as possible. He moved to a new house he had built at Week, a hamlet near Dartington, in 1964, then, late in life, married his secretary Ann in 1976, just two years before he died from alcohol related problems. His music was composed using his real name, Bruce Montgomery.
N.B. A biography by David Whittle, Bruce Montgomery/Edmund Crispin: A Life in Music and Books (ISBN 10: 0754634434) was published in June 2007.
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