Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
The disorganized private life of Nathan, luckless protagonist of Burial by Neil Cross, is not one that most of us would aspire to. Nathan, one of life's under-achievers, is chafing in a radio journalism job, and is stuck in a relationship that has run its course – mainly because of his own lack of drive and focus.
He reluctantly goes to a party along with his soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend; the host is his boss, an unpleasant right-wing radio host. Nathan shares some drugs with the slightly creepy Bob, a journalist who is given to some flaky beliefs in the supernatural. Both men encounter the equally stoned (and irresponsible) Elise, and all three participate in some sordid sex in a parked car. To Nathan's horror, the mini-orgy results in Elise's death.
Nathan is persuaded to dispose of Elise's body, and her death ends up in the 'unsolved' files of police registers. Time passes, and Nathan is racked with guilt. Then Bob makes an unwelcome reappearance and informs him that the woods in which they buried Elise are to be dug up for a social housing project. Nathan's life is soon in a desperately downward spiral.
Burial, like earlier Neil Cross books, is perfectly calculated to keep the reader on tenterhooks -- in all kinds of ways. When Nathan becomes friendly with the uncomprehending sister of the dead Elise and initiates a relationship, we are simultaneously pained at the deception – and worried for the screwed-up protagonist. As events move towards a grim and jaw-dropping climax, it's clear that once again Neil Cross has demonstrated he is the master of the uncomfortable, worrying suspense narrative. Burial is a queasy – but undeniably compulsive – read.
drive towards the main gate. Here, they squatted in a slough of darkness so black and cold it clung to them like viscous liquid. After a few minutes, Bob pulled up. He was at the wheel of an old white Volvo estate. Nathan and Elise clambered on to the back seat, keeping low, and Bob pulled away with too much wheelspin. They passed through the gates, all three laughing. 'Now,' said Bob, at the wheel. 'We need somewhere dark' Elise said, 'I know the place,' and put her hand on Nathan's thigh.
her to the kitchen, where she opened a bottle of wine. Nathan badly wanted a drink. But he thought it would be dangerous to start drinking now. Instead, he opened the middle drawer in the kitchen and removed a cellophane-wrapped pack of emergency cigarettes he kept there, breaking the seal. Holly said nothing about it. She just opened the kitchen window to let the smell out. He stood in front of the open window and lit his cigarette, blowing a plume of smoke out of the window. 'So. Who is he?'
Nathan said, 'Bob Morrow and I - Bob Morrow's the man I was with--' 'That night. I remember.' 'Well. The statement I made. It wasn't completely true.' 'In what way?' 'Well. . .' 'Go on. It's all right.' 'Well, I said I'd stormed out of the party--' 'Because you'd seen your girlfriend dirty dancing with Mark Derbyshire and got jealous. Your girlfriend being Sarah Reed.' 'Sara. You remember this stuff?' 'I remember this stuff.' 'Anyway. So that's true enough: I saw Sara flirting with
in his hands like a basketball. But nowhere did he find the wrapped-up old carrier bag that contained Elise's rotted clothing, and his rotted DNA. The sirens were appreciably closer now. Two or three of them. A chorus of emergency. He stuffed the parcel back into the safe. He locked it. He put the keys in Bob's trouser pocket. He looked round the flat. He remembered that he had searched the bedsit once already. The clothes would not be where he had already looked. A vehicle drew to the kerb
flickered - and it seemed to Nathan that the lights dimmed, and flickered, then rose again. Nathan and Bob had met fifteen years before, in the summer of 1993. Nathan was renting a small room in a house on Maple Road. A year after leaving university, he was claiming benefit and waiting to be awarded a job on the city's biweekly listings magazine. The magazine had yet to bother rejecting his unsolicited job applications, or any of his unsolicited gig, film and record reviews. Nathan was