A Coffin for Charley

Gwendoline Butler, Author St. Martin's Press $20.95 (223p) ISBN 978-0-312-11466-4
Crime in Butler's (Cracking Open a Coffin) fictional Second City of London continues to leave its mark on the unsettled life of high-ranking copper John Coffin, who's newly married to his thespian lover, Stella. Three young woman, all with bitten fingernails, are murdered, seemingly without a struggle. Beside the body of one lies a cassette tape that seems to name her killer, which strikes Coffin as suspiciously easy. That victim is the sister of Annie Briggs, whom Coffin met 20 years ago when Annie, as a child, witnessed a crime perpetrated by members of the neighboring Creeley family. Meanwhile, Stella is being followed and Coffin's sister vanishes with stolen money. These twisting narrative paths lead to a transvestite club; the clues lead to Eddie, youngest of the Creeleys, who was dating Annie's sister when she was murdered. Butler excels at suspending such disjointed fragments in an uneasy urban atmosphere where wealth and squalor are tightly juxtaposed and in letting the narrative sparks fly. It's an admirable technique that, capably handled, can render subtle gems like this one. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/29/1994
Release date: 09/01/1994
Genre: Fiction
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-373-26200-7
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