Love Lies Bleeding

Edmund Crispin was often criticised by crime fiction afficionados for the slight nature of his detective tales. I've never had a problem with this before, usually intricately plotted, often very funny - I enjoy the mix of crime and comedy, very reminiscent of some of the lighter Campion novels. I started to read Love lies bleeding with some anticipation, it is often cited as Crispin's best novel, and owing to his involvement in British film comedy of the 1950s and '60s (he wrote many of the early Carry On film scores under his real name of Bruce Montgomery), had even been mentioned with a bowdlerized title (My Aunt lies bleeding) in a comic film of the period (Carry On Regardless, I think).

However I was quite disappointed with the novel. Yes, it is funny, yes, there is a clever plot, but it's all too intricate, too elongated, too impossible. Some elements of the plot - the appearance of a lost Shakespearean manuscript, the wonderful Mr. Merrythought - a homicidal hound (Montgomery did NOT like dogs), and some of the minor female characters are well written, but there's too much of the Boys' Own paper in it. A murder mystery involving invisible ink? Yeah, sure.

It's certainly an interesting period piece, but for much better writing by Crispin read The Moving Toyshop or the wonderful short story collection Fen Country


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