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Coffin in the Black Museum by Gwendoline…

Coffin in the Black Museum

by Gwendoline Butler

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This is the 20th in the John Coffin series. Scotland Yard has promoted Coffin to head the new London district of the Docklands.

After moving into a flat in an old church converted to flats and a theatre, an urn with a severed head in it is found in the street outside, addressed to the church. Thus begins the quest to answer all the obvious questions, which eventually leads to undiscovered murders from long ago. Although Coffin's police career began in post-WWII London, he is regarded by the locals as an outsider keeping them tight-lipped. The puzzle is further complicated by a mysterious illness affecting many of the people connected.

Apart from Coffin and his friend Stella, the characters are not developed particularly well. However, the authentic description of the London streets makes up for any lack in characterization. One of the strong points of the story is that it portrays credible police work, there are no great coincidental discoveries that are the undoing of many mysteries. I enjoyed the story but have not read any of Butler's other works so I can't compare. ( )
  VivienneR | Jan 9, 2011 |
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"What is that crowd?" said John Coffin, looking down from his tower at the street below.
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"Coffin in the Black Museum" aka US title "Coffin in the Museum of Crime".
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Life was good for Detective John Coffin--he'd earned a promotion and had just moved into a new home in the tower of a renovated church-turned-theater. True, he now headed his own force and was no longer a street detective, but his business was still crime and there was plenty in the Docklands.

And then a severed human head was found in an urn on the church steps. A hand turned up in a freezer upstairs. It was one of those cases that stretched out long fingers to touch many lives... or, rather, deaths--namely the bodies of women buried under a museum of infamous criminals. At least one of whom was alive and well and doing his job with deadly precision.
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