The Coffin Maker’s Garden

A grim plot balanced with a heavy dose of dark humour and fantastically depicted relationships makes this an great read.

Book title

The Coffin Maker’s Garden


Stuart MacBride

Standalone or series

Third in the Ash Henderson series (first one of the series I’ve read)

First time reading this author?

No, I read the first few Logan Macrae books by this same author when they were published.

Why I picked this

This came up as a Pigeonhole read. I was keen to try a Stuart MacBride book again having enjoyed the early ones I had read, but I hadn’t read any for a few years.

Review copy or purchase

Accessed for free via Pigeonhole and encouraged to give an honest review.

What it’s about

A storm strikes. A cottage on a cliff edge collapses into the sea and exposes a garden of human skeletons. With the remaining land at threat of also falling, the forensic evidence is at risk. With only a handful of polaroids, will the bodies ever be identified never mind the killer caught?


I recently wrote about joining another crime series midway through and feeling frustrated by the author’s heavy-handed insertions of background information for readers in the same position. No such concern with this one.

Stuart MacBride’s deft handling of ex-Detective Inspector Ash Henderson’s story is a masterclass in inviting a reader in mid-series. At no point did I find references to the backstory revealed in previous novels off-putting. They were inserted with humour, with intrigue, with the perfect balance of enough detail to understand relationships/scenarios while leaving enough unsaid that it meant I wanted to read the previous books for enjoyment rather than necessity.

The Coffin Maker’s Garden is dark. There’s some fairly graphic violence in places, so do be warned. There’s also an objectively horrible plot of a long undiscovered serial killer who is manipulating a vulnerable young woman, and an unrelated mystery of a child murderer. But, despite all that (and in some ways because of it) this is a fantastic read. What really helps is the heavy dose of dark humour which Stuart MacBride excels at, and the great interactions between Ash, his colleagues, friends and even enemies.

If you like fast-paced thrillers with a twisted sense of humour, definitely give this a try.


Rating: 5 out of 5.
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