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Summary

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.

©2019 David Case (P)2019 Valancourt Books LLC

Critic reviews

“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)

What listeners say about The Third Grave

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Hammer vibe

Before Netflix, even before DVDs were commonplace, I imagined a genie giving me two wishes, but they had to be trivial ones. First wish: They would show Hammer Horror films more often. Second wish: They would turn out to be as good as I remembered rather than the cheap formulaic nonsense that they actually were. Someone else likened this book to a Hammer Horror film, and that was certainly the feel I got from it - the fondly remembered ones rather than the reality. It's got a couple of flashbacks to an archaeological dig in Egypt, but mostly takes place in a remote village. There are a couple of mysterious deaths, strange goings on at the manor house, and a flirty landlady at the pub where the main character is staying. I was going to give the story four stars, but in the second last chapter Graham Chapman appeared dressed as a colonel and said, "Stop that, it's silly!" Well, no, he didn't really, but he should have done. Instead the story continued, changing from remembered Hammer to actual Hammer. The reader was okay, but was obviously much older than the viewpoint character, and he occasionally ate his words - sometimes I only knew what he was saying because of context. All in all, a reasonably enjoyable listen, and the short length is right for the story.

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A great novel with a not-so-great narrator

Case’s novel The Third Grave is a compelling and rather chilling supernatural tale. I first read and enjoyed it many years ago and was looking forward to listening to this Audible version produced by the always reliable Valancourt Books. Unfortunately, the narrator makes this a challenging listen: Guy Bethell’s tone, enunciation and cadence means that, quite often, it’s difficult to work out what he’s saying, especially toward the end of sentences - something of a problem in an audiobook. His style verges on mumbling across the range of different male characters; the female characters are a bit easier on the ear, but the lower the register the worse it gets. A real pity, because this is an excellent novel, but I’m sorry to say I would hesitate to listen to another title read by this narrator.

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  • Scott
  • 29-12-19

Cozy Horror

A "cozy horror" treat in the vein of Sommerset Maugham's novel: The Magician. If you enjoy Hammer films or the movies of Val Lewton you will be into this book. The choice of narrator (age/accent) adds color to the first person narrative as well as the English country-side setting. However, don't expect an in-your-face gore-fest but rather a slow building mystery leading to a violent conclusion.

5 people found this helpful