1940s Crime Mystery

The Moving Toyshop – Edmund Crispin

The Moving Toyshop is a Penguin classic crime book, originally published in 1946. It is a light, supposedly comic, mystery set in Oxford. The story begins with a poet returning to Oxford late one night. He finds the body of an old woman in a toyshop, but the next morning the toyshop, and the body have vanished. The police are not interested in a crime, which to them doesn’t seem to exist, so the poet persuades his friend, an English professor, to help him investigate.

I found the references to Oxford fascinating, as I was born there, and have visited it fairly frequently. The geography of the city hasn’t changed much in the last 60 years, but the attitude of the residents is very different – people seemed to trust each other a lot more then! The language is very quaint, and it is lovely to read a book so full of Englishness! There was a brief mention of the male nudity on the banks of the Thames, which I was vaguely aware of, but I found a fascinating article about the history of this section of the river here.

My main problem with the book was that it was a bit too whimsical for me. I don’t find this gentle humour very funny, so I think the main attraction of this sort of book is lost on me. There were lots of other little things which irritated me, but what annoyed me most was the way everyone readily admitted their role in the crime. The “I’m going to kill you, but first let me tell you everything I’ve done” scene was the worst offender!

Overall, I found this be be a light, reasonably entertaining mystery, and would recommend it to anyone who loves Oxford.


My Review Policy

I decided to add a new page for my review policy after reading a very informative post from the Author Marketing Experts, Inc.

It explains why it is important for authors and publicists to know exactly which books you are prepared to review for them, your attitude to reviewing books that you don’t like, and where you are willing to post reviews. 

You can find my newly added review policy here.

Have you written your review policy recently? How does yours compare with mine?

Other Weekly Geeks

Weekly Geeks – Community Building

deweys_weekly_geeks2This week we are building our Weekly Geek community by linking our book reviews to each other. You can find all my reviews on my Book Reviewed tab (top right). I’ve been very bad at doing this in the past, so this is a great opportunity for me to rectify this situation.

If you’ve reviewed any of the same books as me, please leave a link to your review in the comment section for the book.

Blogging Other

I’ve joined Twitter!

As part of the Blog Improvement Project I have now signed up to Twitter! I’ve been thinking about joining for a while, but wasn’t sure whether I wanted to or not. My main concern is that I will become addicted to it, and waste lots of time using it. I’m also unsure about how to deal with book related news and more personal updates. For the time being I’m going to stick with it being  a twitter account for my book news, as I’m not sure any of my ‘real life’ friends are signed up to twitter anyway!

I joined a few days ago, and think I have grasped the basics, so I’d love to have a few more friends on there. If you’d like to follow me on Twitter then my username is farmlanebooks. Hopefully I’ll add a few Twitter widgets to my sidebar in the next few days.

I look forward to twittering with you soon!

Other Richard and Judy Book Club

Richard and Judy 2009 Book Club – Complete!

Richard and Judy host a TV programme, here in the UK. Every year they chose a selection of books, and then review them on their show. I have been following their book club for a few years, and have read some great books thanks to them.

This year’s Richard and Judy selection didn’t seem as strong as in previous years. I was disappointed with many of the books; the majority were average, or worse, and contained many flaws. I’m not sure that I will read the entire list in future years, especially as I am unable to watch the TV programme now that it has moved onto a satallite channel.

There were a few great reads though. I was very pleased to discover The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite and The Suspicions of Mr Whicher both were rich, informative reads that I highly recommend.

Have you read this years R&J selection? If so, I’d love to know your opinion. Do you think the standard has dropped this year? Will you be reading the list in future years?

 Richard and Judy’s 2009 Book Club Choices

Brutal Art by Jesse Kellerman

Suspicions of Mr Whicher by Kate Summerscale

The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson

The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff

The Bolter by Frances Osborne

Netherland by Joseph O’Neill



The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite by Beatrice Colin

December by Elizabeth H Winthrop

The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway

Recommended books Richard and Judy Book Club

The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite/The Glimmer Palace – Beatrice Colin

The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite is one of the best books I have read this year. The blurb on the back cover describes a very different book to the one it actually contains. I’m not very interested in the film industry, and the life of an orphaned cabaret dancer doesn’t sound like a great basis for a novel, but luckily the book bears little resemblance to it’s description.

The book is set in Berlin during the early part of the twentieth century. The central character, Lilly, is brought up in an orphanage, and faces many hardships. When the orphanage closes, Lilly is thrown onto the streets, and has to learn to live independently. WWI plays a big part in the story line. Lilly has to cope with food shortages, disease and death. The suffering of the German people is described vividly, but sensitively. Lilly is one of the best characters I have come across in a while. She is flawed, but her strength shines though – I loved her!  By coincidence I am also reading Gone With the Wind at the moment, and noticed a lot of similarities between Lilly and Scarlett O’Hara. I’d love to ask the author if  this was just coincidence!

It is very well researched, and I learnt a lot about German history. My only criticism is that the historical facts became too densely packed towards the end. There was a point when I began to wonder if the book was non-fiction, and actually went to check! For three-quarters of the book it was a rich, well written, novel about one woman’s struggle against adversity, but the last part of the book was a bit disappointing, as Lilly’s character seemed to get drowned in historical facts, and the famous people began to dominate the plot. This is only a very minor criticism though, so please do not let it stop you from reading this book.

The book was well paced, informative, and entertaining, and I agree with Simon –  the writing style is very reminiscent of Sarah Waters. I’m sure that anyone who loves Sarah Water’s books will love this one too.

Highly recommended.

NB:  This book is called The Glimmer Palace in America.