Sunday, July 31, 2011

Crime Fiction on a Euro Pass: Oxford, England

The idea of this challenge is to embark on a 12 stage European Journey in Eurail Pass style.

Kerrie is our travel agent and she have chosen 12 destinations for your journey over 12 weeks starting on Monday 1 August.

Our first stop on the Crime Fiction on a Euro Pass summer get-away is England. And I have decided to set my sights on Oxford. Home of Oxford University. But more importantly the home of many detectives such as Inspector Morse and Oxford don, Gervase Fen. The setting for many a British academic mystery....and the place where Harriet Vane finally comes to her senses and accepts Peter Wimsey's proposal of marriage.

Inspector Morse is a senior CID officer with the Thames Valley Police in Oxford. He is the owner of a Jaguar and a lover of the arts and music--particularly opera and even more particularly Wagner. He also loves good British ale and a fine cryptic crossword puzzle. Even thoug
h he is known for his sullen temperament, he is a very likeable character and a very shrewd detective.

The novels in the series written by Colin Dexter are:

Gervase Fen is a Professor of English Language and Literature at Oxford University. Fen is somewhat eccentric and somewhat absentminded, but he is very witty and adept at getting to the heart of the mysteries that fall into his path. The plots are a bit complex and fantastic, but the books are written with humor and wit and are full of literary references that make an English major's heart glad.

Books by Fen's creator, Edmund Crispin:

  • The Case of the Gilded Fly (1944)
  • Holy Disorders (1945)
  • The Moving Toyshop (1946)
  • Swan Song (1947)
  • Love Lies Bleeding (1948)
  • Buried for Pleasure (1948)
  • Frequent Hearses (1950)
  • The Long Divorce (1952)
  • Beware of the Trains (1953) (short story collection)
  • The Glimpses of the Moon (1977)
  • Fen Country (1979) (short story collection, published posthumously)

Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers is set almost entirely at Oxford. Alma mater of Lord Peter Wimsey, the fictional version of Oxford University also houses Shrewsbury College--the educational home of Harriet Vane. The all-female college is experiencing a bout of particularly poison pen letters and malicious practical jokes. The warden of the college does not wish to bring in the police and produce unwanted publicity for the school, so she calls upon Harriet Vane to use the knowledge gained as a mystery writer to bear upon the problem. Using the annual Gaudy (a reunion of "old girls" of the college) and later a research project as cover, Harriet begins her investigations. But the mystery proves to be a deep one and Harriet finds it necessary to call upon Lord Peter for help. While wrestling with the problems of the nasty "ghost" of the college, she must also wrestle with her feelings for Peter. Oxford provides the perfect backdrop for the final stages of the romance between these two intelligent characters.


Kerrie said...

Oh what an excellent starting point for your Euro Pass Bev.

Anonymous said...

Bev, excellent post. Thank you also for remind me of Inspector Morse series.

Yvette said...

I love Oxford and mysteries set there. I was fortunate enough to visit Oxford many years ago and loved it so much I always yearned to go back. But at least I got to visit once. (And I can visit often in books.)

Coincidentally, Bev, I've just finished reading the first Gervase Fen book, THE CASE OF THE GILDED FLY and I've sent you the link for the Vintage Challenge listing. :)

Yvette said...

Meant to add: this was a wondeful post, Bev. Sorry I'm so forgetful in giving praise. :(

Bev Hankins said...

Thanks, Yvette!