A Coffin For Charley
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In the wake of a series of killings, Inspector John Coffin becomes seriously worried when someone begins stalking his wife and is challenged to connect the present-day incidents to a twenty-year-old murder. Reprint. K. AB. PW.
over the face. Dark glasses. Hands covered in gloves. Wears boots, and a wig. A secretive man. It came to a slim catalogue and not likely to help identify the man. She knew enough of her husband’s colleagues to know that they might suggest it was all her imagination. A fantasy blown up in her mind. They would not say so directly to John Coffin, but they had their ways of showing scepticism. She wasn’t sure, indeed, how much even her husband had believed her. He must be a secret man, but
after a particularly gruesome rehearsal and her friends did not always fit in well with the murder and mayhem that was part of her husband’s life. They loved it, of course, but she found their questions difficult. She lived in St Luke’s Mansions which had been converted from the tower of an old Victorian church which had fallen into disuse. The St Luke’s Theatre Complex was adjacent. The main theatre in the round was in the old church itself while a theatre workshop had been built across a
the fireplace was decorative and that the chimney, what there was of it, had once led down to the furnace in the crypt of the old church. Then he saw Bob, sprawled at her feet, and remembered. ‘How did he get here?’ ‘Walked.’ On his own?’ Stella put on a large pair of spectacles and picked up the month’s copy of Vogue. ‘Well, I didn’t carry him.’ ‘Ah, so they telephoned you to say I’d left him?’ ‘The great detective. Yes, that was it.’ She stood up, threw her arms round his neck and kissed
part he had played in Annie’s earlier life. ‘That girl’s had too much to bear,’ Stella had said. ‘She thinks Eddie Creeley killed her sister and she believes he killed Marianna Manners.’ ‘Does she suggest why? What motive he would have?’ Stella had looked back at Annie’s ravaged face, and because she was an actress her own features fell into the same expression so that Coffin saw a frightened woman who had known terrible things. If any man hurts Stella, I shall kill him, he thought. And then
found herself wanting to talk about it. Their coffee was being served by one of Max’s daughters, the lovely one (but going off a bit already) whom they called Beauty. Beauty was a great gossip and heard this nugget of news with pleasure. She too had known Didi, had been at school with her. She passed the news round everywhere. ‘Stella knows, yes, I think she knows WHO, but she didn’t say. She couldn’t really, could she? But it will all come out soon. There will be an arrest, won’t there? We