Richard Cadogan, a struggling poet, one stormy night takes shelter in an old toyshop, only to stumble upon the dead body of a woman. Later, when he returns with the police, the toyshop is gone and so is the body. The police don't believe his story, so he turns to his friend, amateur detective Gervase Fen, a disarmingly eccentric professor of English Language and Literature at Oxford University.
What follows is a clever plot featuring a last will and testament based on Edward Lear's limericks, eccentric characters, witty dialog, non-stop action reaching Keystone Cops proportions, a strong literary element, and fine comic writing. Its hilarious chase scene should be filmed for posterity.
"The Moving Toyshop," published in 1946, was Crispin's third Gervase Fen mystery. This particular whodunit involves an unusual will, a hunt for five eccentric characters named after the nonsense poems of Edward Lear, and of course, a moving toy shop with a corpse in its upper story. The action begins in the Autumn of 1938, when the poet, Richard Cadogan wangles an advance from his London publisher and sets out for a vacation in Oxford.