Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Buried for Pleasure by Edmund Crispin

Gervaise Fen, professor of literature at Oxford, had decided to run for parliament. His reason for doing so remains rather unclear in this delightfully funny mystery novel. He had never been in his proposed constituency before and arrived at the town of Sanford Angelorum shortly before the election. He rented a room at the Fish Inn. He was quite intrigued when he read over the guest register and found the name of Rawdon Crawley, The innkeeper told him that Mr. Crawley was there to fish although there were no fish in the streams. Fen knew that he must get to know Mr. Crawley.

Before this meeting occured, Fen had to begin his campaign. He met his campaign manager, Captain Watkyn, who had made sure that Fen was nominated to run and that he had plenty of posters and pamphlets. He also assured Fen that since he was running as an Independent, he had absolutely no chance of winning against the established parties. Nevertheless, Fen persisted. He gave his first campaign speech and the listeners seemed almost interested. Fen attributed his ability at speech making to years of teaching and to his literary abilities.

I should also mention the naked man who was running through the neighborhood. Fen encountered him on his initial taxi ride from the train station. The naked man would also jump out and surprise the elderly ladies. The locals assumed that he was an escapee from the local mental institution. Also the town had a poltergeist at the vicarage; however, the vicar seemed to have it under control.

Back to Rawdon Crawley. When Fen finally met up with him, Fen found that he knew him. He was Bussy a detective inspector of the C.I.D. who had assumed the name of Rawdon Crawley because he was sure that the locals had not read Vanity Fair. Bussy was there to investigate the murder of a woman named Mrs. Lambert who had died from eating poisoned chocolates. Mrs. Lambert had begun her working career as a prostitute, but had desired a better life. She went to school, got a decent job, and had married Mr. Lambert. Bussy suspected that she was being blackmailed about her past which was a waste of time because Mr. Lambert knew all about her past.

Another murder occurred, and the police came to investigate in the form of Superintendent Wolfe of the local police department, and Detective-Inspector Humbleby of New Scotland Yard. Suspicion immediately fell on the escapee from the mental institution, but Fen was not convinced. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Anybody who has endured the recent elections will find it a funny and expert commentary on the bizarre activities of politicians and voters.  Fen's last speech to the voters is definitely worth reading. This book was published in 1949, but many of the comments still apply.

I have read this book for the 2017 Golden Mystery Scavenger Hunt in the category of a book with a pipe on the cover.

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