Grave Coffin

Gwendoline Butler, Author
Gwendoline Butler, Author Minotaur Books $22.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-312-26167-2
Reviewed on: 07/31/2000
Release date: 08/01/2000
Hardcover - 978-1-86042-500-4
Hardcover - 224 pages - 978-0-00-232638-4
Mass Market Paperbound - 256 pages - 978-0-373-26392-9
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John Coffin, Chief Commander of the Second City of London Police and veteran of more than 20 novels (Coffin's Games; The Coffin Tree, etc.), has to juggle a secret assignment in addition to a serial-murder case in this absorbing police procedural in the classic manner. Trouble begins with the discovery of the mutilated body of detective Harry Seton, who was part of a special detail to eliminate British traffic and possible British manufacture of counterfeit pharmaceutical products--and had been looking into police corruption. On orders from above, Coffin has to follow up on Seton's clandestine investigation into the latter case. Meanwhile, the commander has a gruesome set of schoolboy murders in his own patch. Particularly unsettling is that each boy had a parent connected in some way to the police. Coffin calls on the usual array of quirky personalities for support: Inspector Paddy Devlin, a striking woman who specializes in pederast cases; his chief adjutant, Paul Masters, whose white Pekinese, Augustus (possibly a police dog working undercover), barks and sniffs for important clues; and Coffin's actress wife, Stella Pinero, with her emotional unpredictability. In the end Coffin isn't sure who poses the greater threat--Seton's killer or the deranged child-murderer. For readers new to the series, the author provides both a note explaining the inspiration for the setting (""Second City"" corresponds to London's East End) and a helpful summary of Coffin's life and career. (Aug.)
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