The Coffin Maker lives and works alone in the Kingdom of Death. When he completes a coffin a life on Earth ends. That’s how it’s always been.
One day as Coffin sits writing in his journal, The History of Death, trying to sum it all up in one perfect sentence, a note sails past his window.
Is he about to gain a glimpse of the elusive Divine Plan that has eluded him for centuries? Is life in the Kingdom of Death about to change forever?
There are rumours that the devil is finally arriving in the guise of Colonel Gouge. Rumours started by a priest who has upset the Church by writing a book: Coffin Maker. A book written to comfort a bereaved nephew. A book that appears to prophesy not only the arrival of Gouge, but also the cataclysmic events about to unfold in the Kingdom of Death.
It's available here in the UK or here in the US.
My review -
When Coffin Maker strikes the last nail home and the coffin is completed, that's when the intended recipient dies. He has been doing his job as long as life has existed. In effect, he is Death, Life's antithesis. Father Henry has written a story about him and given it to his little nephew. This book is almost a fable or dark fantasy, dealing as it does with Coffin Maker and his two recent companions; his apprentices. Something, some evil being, has entered the world while Coffin was distracted and that's never happened before.
How do I categorise this book? It’s got elements of fantasy, mythology, philosophy and metaphysics. The story is both full of action and somewhat introspective and I very much enjoyed Coffin's internal dialogues, his insistence upon being The Poet of Death and keeping a journal, and his conversation with the apprentices. I can imagine this story not appealing to some people but I found it very compelling indeed. I couldn't imagine how it would end, and I loved the way it did.
Silver was the first book of Mark's which I read, and I followed on very quickly with The Coffin Maker and The Man Upstairs. The things these books all have in common is that they take a step outide fiction. They look at the story in a way which puts the concept of story under the microscope. I find them very refreshing. His new book, Red is the Colour, is a more traditional crime novel but still has that feeling of being 'something a bit different'.
I asked Mark if he thought his university subject (philosophy) impacted on the sense of otherness I always find in his books. Here's what he said -
Curiosity is what initially drew me towards philosophy. Curiosity about life and death, good and evil, freewill and determinism, about who we are and why we are here, and is there a God and why do we all have to suffer? And these are all good questions that can drive and have driven many a good story. I'm not an academic writer, I don't have that discipline. I choose to explore the world, and life, through storytelling. I love a good mystery, and that can be a whodunit, a crime mystery, or it can be a more metaphysical mystery, involving the nature of death itself. And I guess that's where Coffin Maker comes in. I think that a sense of wonder is a good starting point for both philosophy and storytelling. We are all detectives, trying to fit together the pieces of the puzzle, to uncover the mystery, make sense of it all.
About Mark Fowler
Mark L. Fowler is the author of the novels Coffin Maker, The Man Upstairs, Silver, and Red Is The Colour, and more than a hundred short stories. His particular interests are in crime and mystery, psychological thrillers and gothic/horror fiction.
In 2016, Silver, a dark and disturbing psychological thriller was published by Bloodhound Books. When a famous romance novelist dies in mysterious circumstances, she leaves behind an unfinished manuscript, Silver. This dark and uncharacteristic work has become the Holy Grail of the publishing world, but the dead writer’s family have their reasons for refusing to allow publication.
Red Is The Colour is Mark’s latest book, a crime mystery featuring two police detectives based in Staffordshire. The case involves the grim discovery of the corpse of a schoolboy who went missing thirty years earlier. Red Is The Colour is the first in a series featuring DCI Tyler and DS Mills, and will be published in July 2017 by Bloodhound Books.
A graduate in philosophy from Leicester University, Mark lives in Staffordshire, and is currently writing a follow up to Red Is The Colour. When he isn’t writing he enjoys time with family and friends, watching TV and films, playing guitar/piano and going for long walks.