In this absorbing somber work, John Coffin (last seen in Coffin on the Water ) is now a chief superintendent of South London's Tactical Activity Squad, established to investigate serious crimes in the area. In 1978, South London is in transition, its longtime working-class residents mixing uneasily with newcomers, who bring new money and different values. The community has experienced several mysterious deaths, which the quietly perceptive Coffin is convinced are connected. But what could link a student's suicide three years earlier, an ex-con's brutal murder by his son-in-law, and the deaths of a prosperous black family by poisoned curry soup? Coffin and his squad gather information from the residents, who have their own theories about the deaths, but only one clue is uncovered: a figurine inscribed with the words ``Tombs and Torturers'' and ``The Virgin.'' Butler successfully blends social commentary with low-key violence in this puzzler with a cliffhanging ending. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/01/1989 Release date: 08/01/1989 Genre: Fiction
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