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Saturday, December 7, 2019

The Third Grave by David Case

Book 78/75

The Third Grave
by David Case
Narrated by Guy Bethell
Published by Valancourt Books 
April 30, 2019 (Original: 1981)
182 pages • Paperback
ISBN 978-1948405386 • $15.99

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I received a free Audible download from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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Book description:
When archaeologist Thomas Ashley is invited to remote Devonshire by Lucian Mallory to examine and decipher millennia-old papyrus scrolls, he is unable to resist the offer, despite knowing of Mallory’s sinister and unsavory reputation. The scrolls, retrieved from an ancient necropolis, purportedly contain Egyptian secrets of resurrection and immortality. From the moment of Ashley’s arrival, it is clear something is terribly wrong: a gruesome murder has been committed, and everyone is fearful a madman is on the loose. But the truth is far more shocking. As the murders continue, Ashley works to uncover the secrets contained in the scrolls and begins to glimpse the horrific reality of Mallory’s inscrutable plan...

Originally published as a limited edition Arkham House hardcover and long out of print,
The Third Grave (1981) is a chilling tale by David Case (1937-2018), an undeservedly neglected master of literary horror. Two volumes of Case’s best short fiction are also available from Valancourt.

“Case should be considered among the half-dozen finest living practitioners of the horror story.” - Michael Dirda,
The Washington Post

“Let us hear more of David Case... The field needs more from the author of ‘The Hunter’, a modern classic worthy to stand beside ‘The Most Dangerous Game’.” - Ramsey Campbell

After listening to David Case's The Third Grave, I was a little surprised to find that it was written in 1981; Case writes and creates an atmosphere that feels as if the story were written much earlier in the century, which is a good thing. There is a definite feel of antiquity to the story that lends itself perfectly to what at first feels like a typical mummy-themed adventure but what quickly turns into something more akin to Frankenstein and the accompanying horrors that can be done to a human body.

Thomas Ashley, an archaeologist, is invited to the home of a passing acquaintance he met in the dessert once, Lucian Mallory. Mallory claims to have discovered some ancient Egyptian scrolls and needs Ashely's expertise to translate them. Unable to resist the chance to work on this new discover, Ashley travels to Mallory's home where he is immediately and inadvertently thrust into a bizarre case of murder; someone, or something, has committed grisly murders in the quiet little town and some think that newcomer Mallory may have something to do with it. What follows is a fast-paced exploration of what it means for the characters to be human and what it means for them to have a soul, while simultaneously trying solve the mystery of the murders going on in town.

Guy Bethell's narration is really quite good, even if his voice is a little bit on the gravely side sometimes and hard to follow. He captures the essence of the characters and really keeps the story moving along thru his narration.

Overall, if you are a fan of a good mummy story, or a fan of Frankenstein, or just enjoy a good tale of the classic supernatural with a modern flair, David Case's The Third Grave is for you.

I'd like to thank Valancourt Books for providing an Audible download of The Third Grave for review.