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3.9 out of 5 stars
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3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 1 March 2014
I've been a huge fan of the author's work ever since reading The Ballet of the Bones and through all of his other books that I've read since, so I anticipated his latest release with a lot of anticipation. So much so that when it was released it jumped straight in at the top of my TBR list! I'm happy to say that the book was worth the wait and I wasn't dissapointed.

To date the authors horror stories have been set in the Victorian era and all the natural oddities that comes with the time, this book diverges slightly from that trend and is mostly set in modern times, although there are some flashes back to Victorian London.

The story concerns the Moreton brothers, the latest in a line of family undertakers that have buried the local dead in their small town for many decades. Times have become hard and the business is failing and out of the blue a strange fellow offers to buy the business. This Jacobs is a very strange character indeed and Bobby Moreton discovers there are secrets to the family business in the form of a mysterious cabinet.

The set up works very well, but what really stood out for me was the Jacobs character, he is a fine evil villian. Through most of the book the horror comes from various strange occurences that build an atmosphere of menace, by the climax though this has become full on in a fnal dreadful scene.

As I've said I enhoyed reading this a lot, it's not perfect though and there were a few minor issues, the first was that there could have been more, especially from the Victorian scenes, I really wanted to know more about what happened, although in fairness it's easy to fill in the blanks from the events told in the modern period. Following on from this I thought that the ending could have been filled out more.

They are minor complaints though and this is a fantastic read and like his other books I recommend this to any fans of the horror genre.
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on 14 May 2014
I thoroughly enjoyed this story and found it to be a page-turner. I liked the characters very much and so I needed to know what was going to happen to them. I particularly liked Tom and Bobby, who run the undertaker's business, and the dialogue between them is enjoyable and believable (they sound just like my sons!). Jacobs, the villain ...booo... hisss ... was well-written too and I got a clear picture of him in my head, the slimy so-and-so.

I liked how the author created the Victorian atmosphere in the 19th Century parts of the story and then quite easily switched to an authentic modern voice in the present day parts. He also writes the macabre excellently, so vivid that I felt I was an onlooker during the final scene. There was just enough technical detail, too, of the undertaker's tools and duties to satisfy curious readers like myself.

My only criticisms are that, after all Bobby had gone through, I would have liked to have seen some hint of him tackling his alcohol problem instead of heading off to the off-licence. I liked his character and was disappointed to think that he would continue along this route to self-destruction. There were also a few typos near the end of the story that could have been fixed by more careful editing, but these didn't interfere with my enjoyment of the story.

I like this author and I will be reading more of his books, and I hope he continues to write many more.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 23 February 2014
The intriguing locked cabinet of the title stands in the basement of Moreton and Sons, Undertakers. The business is failing and Bobby Moreton is on the verge of selling. He changes his mind when a new and decidedly creepy undertaker comes to the town and makes to grab all the business. The story occasionally flashes back to the 1850s where we discover the origins of the Moreton family business and the obsession which led to the creation of the Undertaker’s Cabinet.

The author has built a solid reputation for writing Victorian melodrama in the horror vein and although much of this book is set in the present day it reaches back into Victorian times. It brings forward the original Jerome Moreton’s quest and is creepy and disturbing – but in a good way! Fans of David Haynes’ work are not going to be disappointed.
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on 5 October 2014
I have previously read a number of David Haynes' interconnected Victorian Gothic horror short stories, a period and style that he handles with a fine balance of atmosphere and fear. The Undertaker's Cabinet, a full length novel draws in part on this era again, but is largely set in modern times, perhaps a little less successfully. I found it quite difficult to place Littleoak; it read like small town America but the characters seemed British. Or it may just because I was constantly being put in mind of the magnificent TV series Six Feet Under?

The novel takes plenty of time to develop thoughtful characters, a complex plot and some real atmosphere and I particularly loved the black cat in the funeral parlour scenes which were a subtle mix of gruesomeness and black comedy. However the final chapters are played out at a frenetic pace and for me, the quality of the story telling did dip here, becoming a little confused and suspending my belief just too far.

Overall a good read which disturbed my sleep just enough to confirm the effectiveness of the writing!
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on 25 January 2016
First of all, let me start off by saying I love David Haynes, or to be more precise, his work! He has a wonderfully descriptive way of setting the scene, in particular when describing the Victorian period, he really manages to draw you in so that you believe you are actually there. Feet on the cobbles, dank fetid air of the smog in your nostrils. A switch of satin, a gleam of the top hat. I can’t resist a good Victorian ghost story and he does them so well. This one, however, is a mixture of Victorian and present day and he moves between both periods with ease. You are in the past, you are in the present, no stumbling, no snapping from one to the other, it’s all very fluid and pretty seamless. The dialogue between the brothers was convincing and David has no problem with switching from modern vocabulary to the past. For the most part I thoroughly enjoyed the book, the characters were very well described, the scenes set out, the underlying story very good. However, I have to agree with some other comments, there were issues here. Firstly the nearer you got to the ending of the book, the more typos occurred. Most common were the doubling up of the same words. Very annoying and could have been totally eradicated with more careful editing. Another issue was towards the end of the story it tended to grow further away from a more old fashioned style of ghost story to something Dean Koontz would have produced. Gore, a jumble of characters and everything thrown into the pot for god measure. It didn’t need it, the story could have flowed without the chaotic ending. As someone else has mentioned, why the cat in the story? It took up pages when a couple of paragraphs would have sufficed. The constant drinking by the main character until he slumped into oblivion was annoying. One moment confident and strong and up for the challenge of turning the business around, the next an insensible, smelly, dribbling and injured drunk. The ending, as I said was chaotic, you never really got to understand why the main villain thought he would achieve his aims with the cabinet and the pipes. Why did nobody even know the cabinet was in the basement? Why the need for funeral pyres, babies strewn in bags on the ground? What was the meaning and how did it fit? Why did the villages take it all in their stride, even the smoke billowing from the church didn’t bring anyone rushing! How do people get up and move about, speak and cry when half embalmed? And then finally, why go to the offy when you have a ton of embalming fluid in your system? The ending was lazy and it just came to a sudden stop. What a shame, the first half of the book was so much better and held so much promise.
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One of those quirky little stories it's hard not to like but needs some work to really get it out there. At 204 pages it's too long. There's too much padding but; the heart of the story holds a half decent mystery I enjoyed unravelling.

This is the story of a small American town and it's famous (infamous!) family of undertakers. Times have moved on since the days of family greatness and time hasn't been kind to the two brothers currently running the business. They're strapped for cash and running out of ideas until; they discover the real value of 'The Undertaker's Cabinet'. From this point the mystery builds and this particular cabinet holds more secrets than just the paraphernalia of funeral rites.

As a fan of contemporary horror I didn't find anything remotely scary about this story but it has moments of eeriness and the opening chapter is particularly good when it comes to scene setting.

I can't give the story more than a moderate OK. I'm leaving 3 stars and not 2 stars purely because the idea behind the story is good and there are a few moments when events become surreal enough they appealed to me.
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on 8 May 2014
The first 80% of this book was absolutely fantastic. Well written and described, I fell in love with the characters and couldn't wait to see what was going to happen next.

The last 20% (particularly the very last few pages) were a disappointment in comparison. The way it unfolded wasn't as 'believable' as the earlier part of the book and I kept asking myself questions like "How come no one else in the village has noticed this, considering how he could hardly blow his nose a few pages back without drawing a crowd?"

Some parts of it were amazing - the cat in the undertakers was inspired and this is why I've given it a 3. If it had ended the way it started it would have been a five star read.

Worth a read though, if only for the banter between the brothers.
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on 13 May 2014
Just the title of this book appealed to me, and it didn't disappoint. I won't give away the details but if you like something which is a bit macabre with humour and a bit outrageous at the end and a good pace throughout, this is the book to read. I will defiantly be reading more David Haynes.
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on 19 July 2014
Hmmmm.... It started well, lost it a bit in the middle and an ok ending. I wish the author had put in more descriptions from the past to give the reader a better history of the cabinet...... a prequel perhaps? I've given 4 stars as it wasn't a poor read at all, I did enjoy it and I persevered through some at times monotonous parts.
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on 23 February 2014
This story is a little different to the author's recently released books in that it is mostly set in the present. Bobby Moreton's family undertaker business is going down the pan and he's fed up and wants out. But there's history and it wants to rear its ugly head.

Part of the story is set where the first Moreton is setting up the business. The chapters switch back and fore giving hints of what happened and why the new undertaker is in town and wants Moreton for himself.

The story starts off not too creepy. There are quite a few descriptions of what undertakers do behind closed doors and it probably wasn't a good idea for me to read those over lunch. The story ramps up and up and since you know you are reading a David Haynes horror book, you certainly aren't disappointed.

This author has a way with words and the language of the time and is a delight to read in a dastardly way.
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