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In the sleepy English village of Sanford Angelorum, Professor Gervase Fen is taking a break from his books to run for Parliament. At first glance, the village he's come to canvass seems perfectly peaceful, but Fen soon discovers that appearances can be deceptive; someone in the village has discovered a dark secret and is using it for blackmail. Anyone who comes close to uncovering the blackmailer's identity is swiftly dispatched.
Originally published in the 1940's the Gervase Fen mysteries are one of those rights of passage for crime lovers. Or at least they were in my house as I was growing up. Vintage Books have done us all an enormous favour in turning their attention back to some of the classic books - and this set from Edmund Crispin is a real job to behold. Now I have read a lot of these books before, but the chance to reread them, without having to rely on falling on fragile old copies in second-hand bookshops is a joy.
And these are still very good crime stories. Slightly eccentric in that vaguely bats sort of what-ho English style, they are built around a good solid foundation of a problem and a solution, no matter how odd the methodology might seem these days.
They are ultimately extremely enjoyable books - and Gervase Fen is a wonderfully eccentric, but extremely alert British investigating sort of chap - and I cannot recommend them highly enough - either as a reread or as a new experience if you're new to these classic English crime books.
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