'[Gwendoline Butler's] inventiveness never seems to flag; and the singular atmosphere of her books, compounded of jauntiness and menace, remains undiminished' Patricia Craig, TLS
London's Second City has been the scene of many a terrifying crime, but the discovery of a pile of infant skulls unearthed near police headquarters is particularly horrifying. Another major worry for John Coffin, Chief Commander, is a triple murder on his patch, that of a midwife and her two daughters. The obvious suspect is her son, Black Jack Jackson, a local villain, but both Coffin and DI Phoebe Astley are reluctant to accept his guilt.
Two further murders add renewed urgency to both investigations: one of a doctor, discovered in a hospital laboratory surrounded by grisly trophies, might well be connected to the disinterring of the children's skulls; the other, of a notorious Second City criminal, with the brutal midwife killings. Coffin is able to take all this in his stride, however, until the growing violence comes closer to home - directly threatening the safety of his wife, the actress Stella Pinero.
Gwendoline Butler was born and brought up in south London and was one of the most universally praised of English mystery authors. Her John Coffin procedural series features the titular police inspector rising through the ranks to Commissioner in London's Docklands area in the 1960s/70s, and eventually moving to a fictional Second City of London.
'Gwendoline Butler is excellent on the bizarre fantasies of other people's lives and on modern paranoia overlaying old secrets; and her plots have the rare ability to shock'
Andrew Taylor, Independent
'Gwendoline Butler writes detective novels that both in method and atmosphere are things apart. she achieves that real whodunit pull'