Frequent Hearses (Gervase Fen, Book 7)


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Richard Cadogan. Geoffrey Vintner. John Dallow. July Savernake. Penelope Rolt. Inspector Casby. George Sims. Superintendent Wolfe. So he got to show off his insider knowledge and poke a bit of fun at himself along the way. Early on, one character speaks of a film composer "like one who refers to some necessary but unromantic bodily function. In the film world then as now it's the actors and actresses who count and this plot revolves around two actresses who have little in common except that they've both slept with the same actor.

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Gloria Scott is an unknown seeking her first major role. Madge Crane has a mother and three brothers. Gloria Scott appears to have come out of the mists, and has no family and few friends. And Madge Crane is alive and Gloria Scott isn't.

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Scotland Yard sends out quiet, unassuming, but highly competent Detective-Inspector Humbleby who meets up with his old friend Gervase Fen - Oxford Professor and amateur detective. They've hunted together before and make excellent foils for one another. Both are men of intelligence and culture and are worthy of this very erudite writer. If I tell you that in the first chapter, you'll encounter the words "congeries" "equinoctial" "deleterious" "sempiternal" "exiguous" and "inchoate" you'll get the idea. This author clearly saw no reason to assume that his readers were idiots, even if we DO like mysteries.

As to the plot, it's a mystery so there are twists and red herrings and surprises galore. I personally think that the bit involving the maze is over-done, but the head-to-head collision of Humbleby and the Bolshevik butler is one of the finest things I've ever read. His cheerful, ruddy, clean-shaven face grew even ruddier than usual; his dark hair, sedulously plastered down with water, broke out into disaffected fragments towards the crown.

Fen is in his early forties, a man of great academic distinction, boundless energy and insatiable curiosity about all manner of things. His passion is for detecting crime, just as the favourite hobby of his friend, Sir Richard Freeman, the Chief Constable of Oxford, is English literature. Fen is never the romantic hero. If romance intrudes it is usually the province of a friend,colleague or former student of Fen. Gervase Fen is married to 'a plain, spectacled, sensible little woman, incongruously called Dolly' , The Case of the Gilded Fly who is not in the least perturbed by Fen's behaviour, as when an elderly, deaf.

Fen's marriage is a happy, placid affair, which allows him to be on easy terms with attractive young women without taking the matter any further.


  • Iron Gray Sea (Destroyermen, Book 7);
  • A Fair Cop.
  • Frequent Hearses by Edmund Crispin (1983-03-31) by Edmund Crispin.

Even Fen, who being comfortably married, had some time ago, more from a sense of wasted effort than from any moral scruples, given up looking at girls' figures, was manifestly impressed. Much of the information we get about Fen is thrown in, almost incidentally.


  • Get A Copy.
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  • Buried for Pleasure (Gervase Fen Mysteries).
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We know he has children because, at one point, he is summoned back to an investigation when he is playing ball with his son. Also, when he feels his case has become becalmed, 'he went home and spent the remainder of the day eating, sleeping, reading, vilifying his children and practising desultorily on the French horn.

We discover that he served in the First World War because, when a villain tries to shoot at him and his companion, 'Fen, who had fought in the Great War, fell flat on his face, with well-drilled precision. Geoffrey, who had not, remained immobile, gaping in frank stupefaction. That is all we are told about Fen's military service and we are given no information about his youth. Fen is clever, vain and boastful; he makes a lot of fuss about an insect sting on his finger but when he is in real danger he is courageous, as when he is tied up and at the mercy of an enemy agent who: ' stepped forward and kicked Fen in the face.

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On another occasion, Fen and the young woman he is attempting to rescue are being stalked by by an enemy who intends to kill them and is holding a gun on them: '… it was held in a very steady hand — the shadows which it threw were motionless, with the sharp, unreal contours of shadows in a stage set.

Of the figure behind it nothing could be seen except the slim, well-cared-for hand which held the revolver. Fen checked the instinct to flight, swiftly turning his back on the light to shield Brenda with his body. Futile enough, he knew; one bullet for him, one for her, and so an end. A complex character, abrasive and often offensive, Fen is a staunch ally. He helped her to stand. She staggered, one arm around his neck. The raincoat dropped unregarded to the ground.

She gave a little gasping laugh. On an impulse, he kissed her gently on the forehead. Fen's speech is frequently as eccentric as his manner. The character that shares more of Fen's adventures than any other is his small, red sports car, Lily Christine III; a vehicle as eccentric and egocentric as Fen is himself. Lily Christine is an invaluable ally in the numerous comic chases that are scattered throughout Fen's adventures and can always be relied upon to help him to make an entrance that cannot be ignored. In The Moving Toyshop , Crispin treats us to a leisurely and beautiful description of morning in Oxford: 'Out of the grey light came a gold morning.

The leaves were beginning to fall from the trees in the Parks and in St. Giles', but they still made a brave show of bronze and yellow and malt-brown All over the city in colleges and belfries, the mechanism of clocks whirred, clanged and struck nine o'clock, in a maddening, jagged syncopation of conflicting tempo and timbre. And then, into the civilised scene: 'A red object shot down the Woodstock Road.

Frequent Hearses (Gervase Fen, book 7) by Edmund Crispin

It was an extremely small, vociferous and battered sports car. A steatopygic nude in chromium leaned forward at a dangerous angle from the radiator cap. Having turned into the private road leading to St Christopher's and narrowly missed demolishing the college buildings and the President, who had been standing looking out of his window, the car traverses the college grounds and, 'thundered across a strip of lawn, buried its nose in a large rhododendron bush, choked, stalled, and stopped.

Its driver got out and gazed at it with some severity. While he was doing this it backfired suddenly — a tremendous report, a backfire to end all backfires. Lavender is the book's star. His eternal vigilance against Martian invaders are a joy to read and, of course, provide an important addition to a crucial scene.

I do agree with you that Crispin's description of Penelope and Helen are startlingly good. He is very sympathetic but capable of showing just such a problem Penelope is as girls of that age so often are, however sympathetic one might feel towards them. I am late to seeing this - but delighted to read such a helpful and detailed review of the book.

And I agree with all - it is a most enjoyable village mystery.

[CHỮA ĐỀ TOEIC] ETS 1200/TEST 5/PART 6/141-152

I am not familiar with Miles Burton - sounds like I should be investigating. Friday, November 25, What "Killed" Crispin?

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