Cover image for Coffin's game : a John Coffin mystery
Coffin's game : a John Coffin mystery
Butler, Gwendoline.
Personal Author:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, 1999.

Physical Description:
219 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Gwendoline Butler writes under her own name and the pseudonym Jennie Melville.  Educated at Haberdashers, she read history at Oxford, and later married Dr. Lionel Butler, Principal of Royal Holloway College. She has one daughter. She is a winner of the Crime Writers' Association's Silver Dagger Award. She was also selected as being one of the top two hundred crime writers in the world by The London Times . She lives in Surrey, England.

Author Notes

Gwendoline Butler, née Williams was born on August 19, 1922 in South London, England. She was a British writer of mystery fiction and romance novels since 1956. She also used the pseudonym Jennie Melville. Credited for inventing the "woman's police procedural", is well known for her series of Inspector John Coffin novels as Gwendoline Butler, and by female detective Charmian Daniels as Jennie Melville. She was educated at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, where she read History, and later lectured there. In 1956, she started to publish John Coffin novels under her married name, Gwendoline Butler. In 1962, she decided to use her grandmother's name, Jennie Melville as pseudonym to sign her Charmian Daniels novels. In addition to her mystery series, she also wrote romantic novels. In 1981, her novel The Red Staircase won the Romantic Novel of the Year Award by the Romantic Novelists' Association.

Her titles include Receipt for Murder, Coffin Following, Coffin's Ghost, Coffin Knows the Answer and Loving Murder.

She died on January 5, 2013.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Butler has built her considerable reputation on superbly crafted psychological thrillers that examine the bleaker aspects of human nature. Her hero, Scotland Yard Commander John Coffin, is just as enigmatic and complex in his twenty-seventh outing as he was in his first. In Coffin's latest outing, his odd but seemingly unshakeable relationship with his glamorous actress wife, Stella Pinero, is put to the test as Stella is kidnapped by a gang of terrorists. Their plan is to use secrets from Stella's past to blackmail her into spying on her husband and passing on police intelligence. When Stella resists, the gang frames her for a series of gruesome murders. Even the normally stoic Coffin is shaken by the mounting evidence against his wife, her refusal to reveal the truth, and the pressure from his colleagues and the press to solve the case. But Coffin is a consummate professional, and even as his personal life crumbles, he mounts an intensive hunt for the answers he needs. A fine crime novel. --Emily Melton

Publisher's Weekly Review

In the latest entertaining addition in Butler's long-running series of English police procedurals (A Double Coffin, etc.), Chief Comdr. John Coffin confronts a deadly conspiracy intended to destroy everything he holds most dear. Shortly after two terrorist bombs go off in London, the police are called in to examine a dead body. Its face has been mutilated beyond recognition, but evidence at the scene suggests that the corpse could be Stella Pinero, the famous actress and Coffin's wife. Stella's blue Chanel handbag is found next to the body; inside, there is a photograph of her eating a human arm. Even after the coroner proves the corpse was that of a man dressed up to look like Stella, many questions remain to be answered. Who is trying to implicate Stella in such a horrific crime? Could the dead man be a missing undercover policeman? Where has the real Stella disappeared to? As further murders occur, Coffin and Stella's personal and professional lives are threatened, but the savvy protagonist and his team eventually arrive at the truth. Butler paints a credible relationship between Stella and Coffin, two driven professionals who are fiercely independent yet dedicated to each other. Though her writing can be flat, her serpentine plotting is strong enough to provide a satisfying puzzler. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Stella Pinero, actress, theater owner, and wife of London's Second City police commander, John Coffin, has gone missing. Not only that, but a body disguised as hers is found at the scene of a terrorist bombing that Coffin is investigating. Though the body is not Stella's, and she finally turns up, Coffin and his cohorts suspect that she has some connection to the terrorists. As the police move too close to the truth, several other murders occur, also implicating Stella. Needless to say, there is some tension between husband and wife, thankfully resolved as the story ensues. Nevertheless, despite her usual interesting protagonists, Butler's plot gets murkier as it progresses, motivation is slim and mostly unexplained, and loose ends abound. Not her best effort, but perhaps fans will want it. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.