The Coffinmaker's Garden

by Stuart MacBride

Crime and Mystery Books of the Month Star Books Thriller and Suspense

LoveReading Expert Review of The Coffinmaker's Garden

This gutsy, atmospheric, hugely entertaining crime thriller comes with the LoveReading Star Book stamp of approval.

Outrageously good reading entertainment awaits in this punchy, smirky, dark crime thriller set in Scotland. Ex-DI Ash Henderson from the Lateral Investigative and Review Unit finds himself working two cases after human remains are found in a garden that is collapsing into the sea. Ash has previously been central to two of the Oldcastle Novels by Stuart MacBride, do you need to have read the other Ash Henderson thrillers first? I really think you do, as though it is possible to read The Coffinmaker’s Garden as a standalone, you will miss out if you don’t know the back story. I threw all my thoughts and knowledge out of the window as I read and just enjoyed the spunky characters and blood-tingling plot. Spinning between the two investigations kept my armchair-sleuth thoughts from settling too deeply. Instead I rode the wave, fell for the repartee and characters, and found my eyebrows more than once shooting skywards. A round of applause to Stuart MacBride for ensuring a balance between the horror and tragedy of the storyline with the humour that peppers the pages (the inventive insults are hugely diverting). The Coffinmaker’s Garden played out in gloriously vivid colour in my mind, atmospheric and gripping, this is a corker of a read and comes with the LoveReading Star Book stamp of approval.

Liz Robinson

The Coffinmaker's Garden Synopsis

A Sunday Times bestseller for the w/c 11th January 2021 A house of secrets... As a massive storm batters the Scottish coast, Gordon Smith's home is falling into the sea. The trouble is: that's where he's been hiding the bodies. A killer on the run... It's too dangerous to go near the place, so there's no way of knowing how many people he's murdered. Or how many more he'll kill before he's caught. An investigator with nothing to lose... As more horrors are discovered, ex-detective Ash Henderson is done playing nice. He's got a killer to catch, and God help anyone who gets in his way. 'Stuart MacBride's deft plotting and whipcrack dialogue, along with a strong sense of place, make The Coffinmaker's Garden a must read. If you like your serial killers with lashings of dark humour, this is for you' Peter Robinson, no. 1 bestselling author of the DCI Banks series 'The Coffinmaker's Garden is brilliantly creepy, with the most cleverly conceived crime scene I've ever read. His legions of fans will love this - it's an unmistakable Stuart MacBride cocktail of dark violence and even darker humour' Jane Casey, Sunday Times bestselling author of The Cutting Place

About This Edition

ISBN: 9780008208349
Publication date: 19th August 2021
Author: Stuart MacBride
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 496 pages
Primary Genre Crime and Mystery
Other Genres:
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What To Read After The Coffinmaker's Garden

The Remorseful Day
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The Coffinmaker's Garden Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title.

A criminal investigation full of plots, twists and detail which is told with a rich sense of dark humour.

The foreboding tempest in desolated coastal north-eastern Scotland sets the scene for the awful story of murder and abuse. The atmosphere is maintained right through to the end by both the author with many short-clipped paragraphs, rapidly moving scenes and the bull in a china shop nature of the central character Ash Henderson. 

The gripping nature of the story is maintained by the writing style which includes frequent flashes of dark humour. 

The plot and the personal sacrifices of the main characters are developed at a slow detailed pace which is at a positive contrast to the style. This reader was left breathless trying to keep up with all the story details. 

Although it is easy to read the story as a stand-alone novel enjoyment is improved by having a knowledge of the backstory (often referred to) in the preceding Ash Henderson novels. 

A fine addition to books written by Stuart MacBride. His approach to a thriller is as fresh now as when he wrote his first books

Alan Brown

This novel is well written and moves along at a good pace. A satisfactory ending. I would look for others by this author

I have never read any books by this author before but I would certainly read more. The novel is well written and moves along at a good pace. I feel that a previous knowledge of the characters would have been useful as there are references to their back stories but, having said that, the book can be enjoyed as a single story.

The book begins as a cliff is being washed away by the weather and reveals human bones in the soil. Ash and his colleague, Alice, are already involved in an investigation and he is reluctant to become involved. Their search of the house reveals more sinister events and is linked to the search foe a missing girl, Leah MacNeil.

The characters are clearly well established and both investigations are finished in a satisfactory way. The reader feels that the perpetrators have their just reward! 


A really gritty crime thriller!

This is a really gritty crime thriller, featuring Ash Henderson, a maverick ex Detective Inspector, who now works as a consultant to the Scottish police force. In this novel he is working with his faithful sidekick Dr Alice McDonald, a forensic psychologist, helping the police in their search for two serial killers. Ash breaks all the rules (as you would expect) and gets himself into some highly dangerous situations.

There is a lot of violence in this story and all the characters are well drawn and interesting, although thoroughly unlikeable. When I started this book I hadn’t realised that Ash Henderson was an established character who had featured in previous Stuart Macbride books. Although this is a stand alone novel, I would have got into it sooner and enjoyed it more if I had read the previous ones. Fans of crime novels, and Ash Henderson in particular, will thoroughly enjoy this one I’m sure.

Doreen McKeown

A story that will have you on a knife edge.

I like reading a book by Stuart MacBride, I find them gritty and engaging. This story is about a house that is full of secrets but it is in danger of falling of a cliff, can the detectives retrieve all the evidence before it is too late? It was not my favourite of Stuart's books but it was still good none of the less. The character's were all believable and well rounded. I love how it is set in Scotland and Stuart has written the local dialogue into, so you get more of a feel for the place. A story that will have you on a knife edge.

Hannah Symonds

This story grabs you from the very beginning and the tension just keeps building. The characters rush from one closely-averted catastrophe to another, sweeping you along with them, completely engrossed.

This book throws you instantly into not one but two serial killer investigations. In one case, we know the identity of the killer, but will he be found before he strikes again, and how has he managed to get away with it for so long? More importantly, can the Misfit Mob salvage any of the evidence before it is swept away by the storm and without being swept away themselves?

The victims in the other case are children, and Dr MacDonald is desperate to work out who the killer is before another child is killed. But can former-DI Ash Henderson keep his temper long enough to help her without getting into trouble himself? He has to call in lots of favours from his former colleagues before closing both cases.

The action is non-stop and the tension just keeps piling up with no sign of resolution; the suspense kept me gripped and reading late into the night for several evenings. And there are lots of moments that will make you wince in sympathy, and then read on avidly to find out who survives and how. The characters are all very engaging, both the good and the bad, but actually which are which? Although there are references to previous stories, there is no need to have read them to understand their significance and enjoy this story.

Nicola Crisp

A fantastic new volume in the Ash Henderson series. Ash, Alice, and Shifty all in top form and having Ash work with Mother's team is a touch of genius. More soon, please!

I have a confession – I have read all of Stuart MacBride’s books and am a long-term fan of his. This book is the next volume in both the Ash Henderson & Misfit Mob series, following on from both A Song for the Dying and A Dark So Deadly which introduced us to the Misfit Mob & their leader, Mother.

With this book, MacBride skilfully integrates the characters from both novels with a storyline that simply flows without any obvious manipulation of the characters. If anything, integrating Ash into the Misfit Mob improves the book.

The book follows MacBride’s other novels set in Oldcastle – it rains a lot – and the characters have recognisable human traits. There is, as ever elements of humour, some of it for me at least, laugh out loud, which as this is a crime novel about kidnapping & gruesome murders is quite an achievement.

I really enjoyed this book, MacBride skilfully develops each of the main characters without losing any of the elements that made them attractive and always ensuring that we are aware that they are not perfect.

Would Tourist Scotland recommend this book – probably not. Would I recommend this book? Absolutely, with the caveat that this is not a stand-alone novel; as I say above it’s a joining of the Misfit Mob & Ash Henderson series; your understanding of the jokes & therefore your enjoyment will be greater if you read the other books in the series first.

As an avid fan, I can’t wait for the next book in the series which MacBride tees up quite beautifully.

David Gay

A rollercoaster ride from page one until the end.

I was thrilled to be given a copy of Stuart MacBrides latest novel. This is the third outing for ex detective Ash Henderson.

Ash now works for the Lateral investigation and review unit alongside forensic psychologist Dr Alice MacDonald. They are investigating a series of murders where the victims are young boys.

During a storm in Clachmara the garden of Gordon Smith starts to crumble into the sea and with it as yet unidentified bodies.

DI Malcomson, who Ash calls Mother, and her team at Oldcastle are put in charge of the discovery. The DI then demands Ash join her in the investigation. One of the witnesses is an ex-con whose daughter maybe one of Gordon’s victims. Add to this the predatory journalist Jennifer Prentice and Ash doesn’t know which way to turn.

Partnered with DS Rosalind Franklin Ash starts to investigate an unknown number of crimes where the evidence is falling into the sea.

The characters are fantastic and it’s a rollercoaster ride. I loved the characters including all the relationships with Ash and the women in his life. Ash is not a law abiding investigator but you understand and agree with every decision he makes.
This had Stuart MacBrides normal gallow humour and is a fantastic read. I wanted the world to disappear so I could read until the end. I was then left bereft that it had ended.

Elisabeth Soane

This is the first of Stuart MacBride's books that I've read...but it certainly won't be the last! It's dark, it's violent and utterly brilliant.

The Coffinmaker's Garden is Stuart MacBride's third book featuring ex-Detective Inspector Ash Henderson. If, like me, you haven't read the first two, there's back story to piece together but on the whole the writing is so good, that's not too hard a task.

Now working for LIRU, the lateral investigative and review unit, alongside Dr. Alice McDonald, Ash is pulled in to assist Police Scotland when a child killer and a serial murderer need to be tracked down and stopped.

This is a long book but the reader is gripped from the start, once the Scottish vernacular is mastered. Set in fictional Oldcastle, on the east coast near Aberdeen, the story is gritty and hard-hitting, gory and graphic. Just when you think no body could take any more brutality, Ash falls victim to more, so you begin to wonder if he's a superhero in disguise. The story is very much lightened by the razor-sharp dialogue though, especially from the duo of Francis and Joseph, whose dark humour wouldn't be out of place in a Shakespeare play.
To say that the means used in this investigation are unorthodox is an understatement, the reader has to decide if they justify the end of sadistic criminals getting their just desserts. But you need to read it first!

drena irish

Dark & uncomfortable, with a large cast of colourful, well drawn characters. I could see this as a TV series.

As I have never read anything by Stuart MacBride, I really wasn't sure what to expect when a thick book with green leaves on the cover landed on my doorstep. This also meant that I had never met ex-DI Ash Henderson & the heavy drinking forensic psychologist /'friend' Alice.

The synopsis, however, intrigued me, although I found the heavily character driven narrative seemed at first to overshadow the plot and I wasn't sure where the story was going. As personalities were developed, much of the dialogue in the meetings made me believe this really could be based on real police briefings along with the frequent flashes of very dark humour.

About half way through the book I didn't feel sure how Mr MacBride was going to keep my interest for the number of pages still left, but I was curious to know how things turned out so kept reading & that's when the pace seemed to pick up. Lots of twists & I was hooked.

The story becomes darker and extremely uncomfortable in places, but by the end I had warmed to Ash as a character, although I'm still a little unconvinced by some of the events in the final pages. Regardless, every book should feature a little dog, Henry is a star!

Carolyn Parry

A well-written and gripping storyline with intriguing and unconventional heroes.

This is a very well-written book. The story flows well, the plot is good - weaving two story lines and some unexpected twists. But it is very dark, graphic in parts, and I found it hard to read. There is dark humour and I had trouble reconciling the sometimes jokey prose and conversations with the disturbing plotlines and imagery. If you enjoy gritty stories about unconventional heroes, then this is the book for you.

Pauline Braisher

Stuart MacBride Press Reviews

'Stuart MacBride's deft plotting and whipcrack dialogue, along with a strong sense of place, make The Coffinmaker's Garden a must read. If you like your serial killers with lashings of dark humour, this is for you' Peter Robinson, no. 1 bestselling author of the DCI Banks series

Praise for Stuart MacBride:

'Dark and brilliantly written' Linwood Barclay

'A satisfying read and a hugely thoughtful novel ... there's no let-up for the reader' Scotland on Sunday

'A tense and gritty thriller' Irish Sunday Independent

'The pages turn effortlessly. His best work yet.' i

'A tour de force ... smartly paced and vividly pungent' Laura Wilson, Guardian

'MacBride's books have always been ambitiously plotted and firmly character-driven ... They are only getting richer and more rewarding. The Blood Road is his best work yet' Scotland on Sunday

'Dark and gripping. A riveting page-turner' Independent on Sunday

'MacBride is a damned fine writer' Peter James

'A satisfyingly compelling thriller' Sunday Mirror

'Skilful storytelling ... strong characterisation ... both intriguing and engrossing' Guardian

'MacBride's thrillers just keep getting better' Express

'Exciting ... a guaranteed bestseller' Literary Review

'Unmissable ... Superb storytelling' Sun

'Crime fiction of the highest order' Mark Billingham

'A terrific writer ... Logan McRae is a delight' The Times

Other editions of this book

ISBN: 9780008208349
Publication date: 19/08/2021
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9780008208318
Publication date: 07/01/2021
Format: Hardback

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About Stuart MacBride

Stuart MacBride is the No.1 Sunday Times bestselling author of the Logan McRae and Ash Henderson novels. He’s also published standalones, novellas and short stories as well as a children’s picture book.   Stuart lives in the northeast of Scotland with his wife Fiona, cats Grendel, Gherkin, Onion, and Beetroot, some hens, horses, and a vast collection of assorted weeds. Stuart MacBride is the author of several bestselling novels featuring DS Logan McRae, including Shatter the Bones, which reached No. 1 in the Sunday Times bestseller list.The McRae novels have won him the CWA's Dagger in ...

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