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John Coffin Books In Order

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Publication Order of John Coffin Mystery Books

Receipt for Murder (1956)Description / Buy at Amazon
Dead in a Row (1957)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Dull Dead (1958)Description / Buy at Amazon
The murdering Kind (1958)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Interloper (1959)Description / Buy at Amazon
Death Lives Next Door / Dine and Be Dead (1960)Description / Buy at Amazon
Make Me a Murderer (1961)Description / Buy at Amazon
Coffin in Oxford (1962)Description / Buy at Amazon
Coffin For Baby (1963)Description / Buy at Amazon
Coffin Waiting (1964)Description / Buy at Amazon
Coffin In Malta (1964)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Nameless Coffin (1966)Description / Buy at Amazon
Coffin Following (1968)Description / Buy at Amazon
Coffin's Dark Number (1969)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Coffin from the Past (1970)Description / Buy at Amazon
Sarsen Place / A Coffin For Pandora (1973)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Coffin For The Canary / Olivia (1974)Description / Buy at Amazon
Coffin On The Water (1986)Description / Buy at Amazon
Coffin In Fashion (1987)Description / Buy at Amazon
Coffin Underground (1988)Description / Buy at Amazon
Coffin In The Museum of Crime / Coffin in the Black Museum (1989)Description / Buy at Amazon
Coffin And The Paper Man (1991)Description / Buy at Amazon
Coffin on Murder Street (1991)Description / Buy at Amazon
Cracking Open A Coffin (1992)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Coffin for Charley (1993)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Coffin Tree (1994)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Dark Coffin (1996)Description / Buy at Amazon
Double Coffin (1996)Description / Buy at Amazon
Coffin's Game (1997)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Grave Coffin (1998)Description / Buy at Amazon
Coffin's Ghost (1999)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Cold Coffin (2000)Description / Buy at Amazon
Coffin Knows The Answer (2002)Description / Buy at Amazon

John Coffin is the title character in the John Coffin series of novels by British detective crime mystery author Gwendoline Butler. The series features detective John Coffin as the chief detective in a series of crime mysteries in London. We first meet Coffin in the first book of the series, the Receipt for Murder, where he is a leading detective in South London. Unlike his colleagues in the police department such as Inspector French, he is a highly ambitious officer that rises fast from lowly constable to the rank of Chief Commissioner in later books. He has been twice married, tying the knot with Stella a famous actress after the death of his first wife. While Coffin has come to represent the entire series of 29 books, he was a peripheral figure in the first three books. An Inspector Winter took the lead role before the mercurial John Coffin became the leading man starting with The Murdering Kind, published in 1958. Coffin really comes into his own when Gwendoline Butler moves him from South London and promotes him to Chief Commander of the Second City of London Police.

It can be argued that the author’s decision to phase out Inspector Winter, and replace him with John Coffin is what made the series become so successful and attain such popularity. His promotion from the rank of police constable to Chief of Police in Docksdale makes Coffin more fascinating as he has the opportunity to show his multidimensional character. Moreover, unlike Inspector Winter who was methodical and dour, Coffin despite his name is a vibrant character that is instantly likable. The popularity of the John Coffin series worldwide has been unprecedented, which has led to comparisons with some of the best novelists of British police procedurals such as Marsh, Allingham, Sayers, and Christie. The series has been the recipient of several prominent awards, the most prestigious being the CWA Silver Dagger Award for the 1973 book A coffin for Pandora. The award of the CWA Dagger Award massively increased the John Coffin series fan base in the US, making subsequent books enjoy considerable commercial success.

Gwendoline Butler asserts that Coffin seemed like a good name for the setting of her novel, since it borrowed a lot from the Blackheath area of London where the name was common. Butler describes John Coffin as an impulsive character that has the uncanny knack of making connections between his current cases and other seeming unrelated cases. From the very first titles in the series when he worked under Winter, he always had an intuition that proved critical in solving the most bizarre of mysteries. Having lived in the less savory parts of the city, he takes criminal cases as a complex web of interacting and interlocking relationships in which some people in the society are caught up in and destroyed. As such, his mode of operation is to find the one strand, and use it to find the entire web and demolish it. With his rise from police constable under investigation to Chief of Police, Coffin picks up several sidekicks who work with him to unravel the most difficult of crime mysteries. However, it is John’s sixth sense and understanding of human nature and motivation that helps the department mystifying crime mysteries almost every time and again.

Grave Coffin

In the 29th book of the John Coffin series, Coffin now in charge of the Second City of London Police as Chief Commander is dealing with two crises. On the one hand, he has to find a particularly vicious serial killer, while also handling a highly sensitive secret assignment. Things go haywire when Harry Seton, a highly effective police detective that had been the lead in fighting possible counterfeiting of British pharmaceutical products, is found dead and mutilated. The plot thickens when it is revealed that Seton’s revelations had indicated major police involvement and corruption in the counterfeiting scandal. Getting orders from his superiors, John Coffin sets out to investigate Seton’s murder and complete his secret investigation on police corruption. Meanwhile, he has to deal with a series of grisly murders of schoolchildren in the Second City. What makes the case even more peculiar is that all of the murdered children had a parent with links to someone in the police. John Coffin relies on his ever present associates: Stella Pinero his actress wife; a specialist in Pederasty cases, Inspector Paddy Devlin; Paul Masters his chief adjutant who also comes with his white Pekinese. Master’s Pekinese sniffs and barks at important clues and could possibly be an undercover police dog. However, the biggest problem for Coffin is that he still has not made the decision on what case to prioritize, the deranged serial killer or Seton’s murderer.

Coffins Game

The 28th book of the John Coffin series is just one among an entertaining list of English procedurals by Butler featuring our favorite protagonist John Coffin. In this novel, John Coffin faces the prospect of losing everything that he holds dear after a deadly conspiracy. When terrorists detonate two bombs in London, a body with a face mutilated beyond recognition is found on the scene. The police believe it could have been a suicide bomber, but upon a closer analysis of evidence at the scene, they are convinced that the corpse could be that of famous actress Stella Pinero, Coffin’s wife. The evidence could not have been more bizarre; inside the blue Chanel bag found on the body, the police find a photograph showing her eating a human arm. The coroner soon concludes his investigations and declares that the corpse is that of a man. Nonetheless, questions remain as to why the dead man would try as much as he did to implicate Stella in a terrorist attack. Meanwhile, the real Stella is nowhere to be found and with more people, being killed in the city, Coffin’s professional and personal life becomes ever more complicated. However, Coffin’s and his team have yet to fail to uncover any criminal mystery, and true to form, they crack this one too. Butler successfully draws a realistic and believable picture of Stella and Coffin’s relationship as two persons that are highly devoted to each other yet remaining fiercely independent.

Book Series In Order » Characters » John Coffin

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