Cadbury's Coffin resembles an American version of the famed BBC TV series -- Upstairs, Downstairs, with a strong flavoring of Charles Dickens. This Victorian mystery set in 1899 upstate New York was a 1982 nominee for Best Juvenile book from the Mystery Writers of America. It was once optioned by Hollywood writer/producer Paul Monash for a possible TV-Movie.
"Don't bury me alive!" begs Lycurgus Cadbury, the cantankerous, tight-fisted tycoon of the 1899 factory town of Gilead, New York, as he lies on his deathbed felled, apparently, by a stroke. His impending death, and his Last Will and Testament, cannot but change the lives of many people. These include his closest relatives, two greedy nieces, and Montfort Morgan, a devilish grand-nephew. Then there is his penniless household staff: Josh, the innocent and virtuous choreboy; Verbena, the lovely, scheming scullery maid; a careworn housekeeper, Minnie Pumpley; a dotty houseman, Eli Stamp.
From the night of Mr. Cadbury's fall to the reading of the will, his mansion rattles with family battles, echoes with conflict between relatives and servants, and shudders with bizarre, bone-chilling surprises as the plot is thickened by attempts to see that old man, once taken to the tomb, is really and truly dead! For the wealthy curmudgeon has devised an intricate scenario which will determine not only if he is dead, but just who is the most deserving recipient of his riches. Cadbury's Coffin is a grand entertainment in the Victorian melodramatic manner, acted out by characters both valiant and villainous, and stuffed to the margins with shivers and mystery. Humor, horror, and romance are woven into the elaborate plot of this superbly crafted and enthralling short novel.