DEATH LIVES NEXT DOOR by Gwendoline Butler
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Butler's first story (published in 1960 in England) in the series featuring Scotland Yard's John Coffin (Coffin on Murder Street, p. 354, etc.), then an eager young Detective Inspector. In Oxford to follow up a clue in the disappearance of seedy photographer Albert Montano, Coffin discovers that his quarry is a recent murder victim, stabbed to death in the kitchen of Dr. Marion Manning--once an anthropologist--whose husband died on an expedition to Central America. Quiet, reserved Dr. Manning, now a respected philologist, is a suspect in the eyes of the Oxford police, as is her flamboyant friend Joyo, who does Dr. Manning's chores and mostly lives with her. Meanwhile, 35-year-old Ezra--one of Oxford's perpetual tutor-scholars--cherishes Dr. Manning's friendship, arousing jealousy in his girlfriend Rachel. Ezra had been uneasy about Montano, a secretive watcher of Dr. Manning for days before the killing. Coffin's arrival sets off a torrent of a different kind of violence, finally resolved in the unmasking of a deeply hidden psychological battle. The author combines a love letter to Oxford--lively vignettes of some relentlessly eccentric denizens--with a near-surrealistic puzzle, chillingly told, to produce a haunting story deserving of a new audience.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1992
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: St. Martin's