by Neil Cross
Cover Artist: Getty Images
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Forge Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765325877
Date: 16 March 2010 List Price $24.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Nathan Redmond is a successful sales agent for Hermes Cards and has a beautiful wife, but he has lived with a terrible secret for ten years. One night, a mysterious acquaintance, Bob Morrow, appears on the doorstep of his home, demanding to be allowed inside. Bob fearfully explains that the corpse of nineteen-year-old Elise Fox, which he and Nathan buried in the woods of Sutton Down, England, will soon be discovered by land developers; he later confesses that Elise's ghost is haunting him. Bob is shocked to learn that Nathan married Elise's sister, Holly. Nathan must decide whether to rebury Elise in hallowed ground or forfeit the perfect life he has built with Holly and her parents.
Burial is a bizarre psychological horror novel from Neil Cross. Extremely intriguing, it has mystery, romance, and the occult. At a gala Christmas party held at an ancient country manor, Nathan encounters Bob who is heavily involved in researching supernatural phenomenon. Using a homemade Ouija board, they make contact with two spirits. Nathan also meets the wealthy Elise with whom he shares romantic feelings. The three of them drink liquor and snort cocaine before driving to a secluded country lane. Events that are too disgusting to describe here lead up to Nathan returning to their parked car and discovering Elise lying dead in Bob's lap. Bob claims she had a seizure. Nevertheless, Nathan is forced to help Bob conceal her corpse. As the years pass, the actual cause of Elise's death remains a mystery.
Bob Morrow is definitely the villain of this novel. He is obnoxious, overweight and constantly smells like rotten vegetables. His fanaticism for the supernatural could be viewed upon as insanity. On the other hand, I didn't hold Nathan Redmond in the highest regards. He is very deceitful. If he was moral and honest, he would not have allowed himself to get in a situation where he had to bury a girl's corpse. He should not have been partaking of illegal drugs, he should not have been unfaithful to his girlfriend, and he should not have allowed himself to be influenced by a freak like Bob. Most importantly, he should have contacted the police when he discovered Elise's corpse. Nathan, however, does experience quite a bit of guilt. One wonders if this guilt manifests itself in his nightmare visions of Elise or if she has actually returned from the dead to haunt him. Nevertheless, the novel has a chilling climax that didn't help to elevate my low opinion of Nathan.
When will people learn that you can never bury your sins deep enough to keep them from coming back to haunt you? Everyone thinks they are the exception. "It won't happen to me," they declare. While reading Burial, I experienced a lot of tension and dread. I kept wondering when Holly would discover that her husband buried her dead sister. I kept wondering when Holly's friend, Jacki Hadley, a police officer, would arrest Nathan. If it was me, I'd be living in constant fear that someone would discover the corpse and all my secrets would be revealed, destroying my career, my family, and my life. I've seen enough horror films, such as the famous I Know What You Did Last Summer, to contact the police if I accidentally murdered someone. Of course, one doesn't ever know how one will react when faced with a similar situation. Perhaps I would've helped Bob bury Elise.
Fans of psychological horror will enjoy reading Neil Cross's Burial. It is his first novel to be published in the United States. His other novels of psychological horror include Natural History, Holloway Falls, Always the Sun, Heartland and Mr. In Between. Recurring themes in his novels are secret sins, deceptions and revenge.