THE BACKWARD REVIEWER
William F. Deeck

STANLEY CASSON – Murder by Burial. Hamish Hamilton, UK, hardcover, 1938. Paperback reprint: Penguin, UK, 1943. US hardcover edition: Harper & Brothers, 1938.

STANLEY CASSON Murder by Burial

   Col. Theodore Cackett, R.E., D.S.O., has formed in Kynchester the Roman Guard for the Regeneration of Britain and is now planning [to] erect a monument to the memory of the Emperor Claudius in recognition of the civilizing influence that the Romans brought to the Isles.

   On the other hand, Canon Burbery knows that the early Britons were a great deal more civilized than commonly supposed. It is his plan to begin an archaeological dig to prove that Kynchester was the stronghold of King Cunobeline (or Cymbeline, as Shakespeare would have it). He hopes that the citizens of the city will take the claims in behalf of the Romans less seriously after they have been shown their heritage.

   A rivalry of this sort is bound to create bad feelings. Add to it the Canon’s blackballing of Cackett at the learned Augusteum Club and Cackett’s becoming involved in a plot to arm the landowners of England to defend against a possible revolution, and anything can happen.

   In this case a death occurs. Following a fortuitous investigation by a professional archaeologist, questions are raised whether the death was Indeed “an act of God.”

   Well written, quite literate, amusing in parts, informative on both archaeology and numismatics. The dialogue sometimes seems more lecture than conversation, but the lectures are interesting and thus tolerable.

   Fascinating also is Miss Boddick’s expatiation on Holmes’s view of the country as a scene of crime: “You Londoners will never realise the depths of depravity of the countryside Why, the English countryside is one congealed mass of intrigue and petty spite. That is why almost every murder story is placed in a country town or in some remote village, where all the natural passions have free play.”

From The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 10, No. 3, Summer 1988.



       Bio-Bibliographic Data:

   This is the only mystery that the author wrote. From an online website comes the following information:

   Stanley Casson (1889-1944) was a multi-talented art scholar and army officer who read Classical Archaeology at Oxford, served as Assistant Director of the British School at Athens, Special Lecturer in Art at Bristol University, and was Director of British Academy Excavations at Constantinople in 1928-1929. His publications include numerous articles and books on the subject of Classical Antiquities.