Neil Cross really knows how to put together a story. More importantly, in BURIAL, his second crime fiction novel, he's absolutely not afraid to write a very morally ambiguous central character.
When Nathan meets up with journalist Bob again at a drug fuelled party at his bosses house, he did something incredibly stupid. He was young and restless but just maybe he wasn't the one that killed a young girl that night. Maybe she wasn't actually killed but just died in very wrong circumstances. He certainly had a part in covering up her death. Somehow that isn't the worst thing he's ever done, not when you consider the circumstances of his marriage. But then, what pathetic little Nathan has made of his life is badly threatened when Bob returns with some devastating news about that night.
Either way, BURIAL takes the reader into a world that's populated by some pretty unpleasant people. Nathan's boss - the washed up radio DJ who is, well tacky. The journalist Bob, just a bit off, or maybe a whole lot worse than that. Nathan - on the one hand easily led, a loser who spends his life compensating for one night where he was too pathetic to do the right thing. And now it's almost impossible to do the right thing, and keep his life comfortable, and happy and the way he wants it to be. Maybe a job as a greeting card salesman is as close to retribution as he's ever going to get, it's hard to tell, Nathan's internal dialogue is pretty good at convincing him that there's nothing wrong with his life and he's not a loser, despite the distinct undertone that he thinks he probably really is.
The interesting thing about BURIAL is that the pace simply never lets up, and whilst it's just not easy to sympathise with Nathan, it's very very easy to want to know what happens to him, where he goes with his life, how is he going to make things normal or right. You also can't help but care about some of the people around Nathan - his wife, her parents.
Neil Cross is undoubtedly a very accomplished writer. You're not likely to enjoy the ride with BURIAL, you're probably going to end up disliking just about everybody and everything in this book. For all of that I couldn't put it down, and I simply can't forget. If you haven't read his first crime fiction novel - NATURAL HISTORY - then BURIAL is an option as they aren't part of a series (having said that no reason why you shouldn't read NATURAL HISTORY as well as BURIAL!).