Dualities and duplicities are threaded like filaments throughout Butler's latest in the long-running John Coffin series (The Coffin Tree, etc.). Commander Coffin, head of the Second City of London's police force, is both professionally and personally challenged by this Jekyll/Hyde puzzler. First, Harry Trent, a police colleague from Greenwich whom he had worked with earlier in his career, shows up with vague warnings about his identical twin, Mark (Merry) Trent. Then, two bodies are found in the theater run by Coffin's wife, Stella Pinero, after an opening night performance. The victims, Joe and Josie Macintosh, are not who they seemed; but in one of many conundrums in this convoluted mystery, who they seemed to be are also victims. Furthermore, Harry Trent and, perhaps, his unseen identical twin were once involved with the Macintoshes. While the police proceed with their routine searches and analyses, Coffin probes the single or dual identity of Harry and Merry Trent and that of the real and the phony Macintoshes. Butler's minor characters are sharply etched and the brooding, thoughtful Coffin watches over his wife and his city like a fallible, but effective, guardian angel. After 40 years and 25 adventures, Coffin appears far from the end of his journey. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 10/02/1996 Release date: 10/01/1996 Genre: Fiction
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