The Long Divorce

An unexpected recent pleasure was Edmund Crispin’s 8th Gervase Fen mystery, “The Long Divorce”, a poison pen mystery set in the Cotswolds (I’m guessing). An American publisher, Felony and Mayhem, has revived the Crispin backlist  – although the cover blurb does make it sound as though the book is largely about a cat called Lavender (not that there’s anything wrong with cat mysteries – but this isn’t really one of them.)

I’ve resisted reading the later Gervase Fen stories, after Crispin made it clear in one of the early ones that he disliked dogs. I hurled the volume aside, and have made it a point of principle not to read him. I’m now making it a principle to re-test my principles. I’d forgotten how smoothly Crispin writes, and while the language does seem donnish, the whole effect was magisterial rather than off-putting. He captures the nuances of village life well – though I suspect no one nowadays would hand their case over to a bus driver and ask him to set it down for them at the next town – not if they ever wanted to see their case again. This is competent fiction, and I’m surprised it has vanished for so long.

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