Peter Coffin is both the narrator and author of The Search for My Great Uncle's Head. There was a time when there were loads of books "written" by the narrator. I wonder why writers thought this was clever. They weren't fooling anyone. The books were always found in the fiction section of bookstores so why bother with the gimmick at all? In this case Peter Coffin turned out to be a pseudonym for Jonathan Latimer, creator of the Bill Crane private eye novels. The Crane books are completely different in tone and style from this book. From the title you think you'll be getting a very black comedy and there is a smidgen of that here. I'd say it's more of a blend of the fair play detective novel and a surreal nightmare thriller with a trace of the Gothic shocker thrown in for good measure. The wise cracking dialogue of Bill Crane is fairly absent here.
Coffin is summoned to the home of his great-uncle Tobias Coffin where his relatives have gathered for an announcement about Tobias' will. While walking through the woods in the most Gothic scene in the book Coffin encounters a barefoot man skipping along merrily and singing the old nursery rhyme "A tisket, a tasket." Later we discover that he met up with an escaped lunatic who previously had decapitated his wife and children. The police are trying to capture the nut case but are doing a pretty poor job of things. At the home of his great-uncle Coffin is met by his hostile relatives who mistake him for the lunatic due to his rain drenched clothes and his mud stained hands and face. After a brief clean-up and several protestations they allow him to see Great-Uncle Tobias who proceeds to castigate him in a kind of character test. Coffin, disgusted by the poor treatment, tells off his great-uncle and tries to leave the house. Tobias is pleased that Coffin shows a little backbone and convinces him to stay. He also confides in him that there will be a surprise in store for all the relatives the next day alluding to his plans to disperse his fortune in a new will.