When newly-promoted detective John Coffin is called to investigate the body of a young woman floating down the Thames in 1946, he is drawn into a grim mystery surrounding a suspicious murder. The victim, who has suffered significant physical trauma, comes bearing a note: "Present for my mother", a sentiment directed at an actress whose son drowned 17 years earlier. A crisp, upright narration from voice actor Nigel Carrington brings a dignity and gravitas to prolific British writer Gwendoline Butler's atmospheric mystery, part of the John Coffin series of crime novels.
British writer Butler has crafted a grim tale that unsuccessfully blends murder with social commentary. In 1946, newly promoted detective-constable John Coffin arrives in Greenwich to take up his post. Soon after, the body of a young woman floats down the Thames to South London. It quickly becomes clear that this is no ordinary murder: the victim has been strangled, stabbed and mutilated. Attached to the body is a note reading "Present for my mother," a reference to former actress Rachel Esthart, whose son drowned under mysterious circumstances 17 years previously, and who has just received a postcard promising an imminent gift from the boy, whose death she has never acknowledged. Then two other bodies are found in the river, murdered in the same brutal way.
This is the first in Gwendoline Butler's acclaimed series of police procedural novels about the eponymous John Coffin and his rise through the ranks. She weaves a tapestry of various threads and themes, not least the social history of the time - the end of WW2 and the life of the river Thames. Ms Butler is a skilled writer and keeps you guessing as to the eventual denouement .Nigel Carrington does a brilliant job of bringing her wide and varied cast of characters to life. In short I loved it and will be buying Book 2 - Coffin in Fashion - as soon as possible!