The Case of the Gilded Fly is Edmund Crispin's debut novel and also the first Gervase Fen mystery.
It is October 1940 and, at Oxford University, the term has just begun. Robert Warner, an up-and-coming playwright known for his experimental approach, has chosen an Oxford repertory theatre for the premiere of his latest play, Metromania. Together with his cast he comes to Oxford to rehearse a week before the opening, but Warner's troupe is a motley crew of actors among whom is the beautiful but promiscuously dangerous Yseut Haskell. She causes quite a stir with her plots, intrigues and love triangles. When she is found shot dead everyone is puzzled and worried - most of the actors have had a reason to get rid of the femme fatale and few have alibis.
The police are at a loss for answers and are ready to proclaim the incident as suicide, but Gervase Fen, an Oxford don who thrives on solving mysteries, is ready to delve further.
Edmund Crispin (2 October 1921 - 15 September 1978) was the pseudonym of Robert Bruce Montgomery (usually credited as Bruce Montgomery), an English crime writer and composer. Montgomery wrote nine detective novels and two collections of short stories under the pseudonym Edmund Crispin (taken from a character in Michael Innes's Hamlet, Revenge!). The stories feature Oxford don Gervase Fen, who is a Professor of English at the university and a fellow of St Christopher's College, a fictional institution that Crispin locates next to St John's College. Fen is an eccentric, sometimes absent-minded, character reportedly based on the Oxford professor W. E. Moore. The whodunit novels have complex plots and fantastic, somewhat unbelievable solutions, including examples of the locked room mystery. They are written in a humorous, literary and sometimes farcical style and contain frequent references to English literature, poetry, and music. They are also among the few mystery novels to break the fourth wall occasionally and speak directly to the audience.