British author Margaret Yorke, who was born in 1924 and died on November 17 of last year, was a prolific writer, averaging one novel a year for four decades, with 44 titles published in English and over 450 reprints in other languages. Her popularity in Sweden culminated in the Swedish Academy of Detection presenting her with its Martin Beck award in 1982, and she was also the recipient of the 1999 Crime Writers Association Cartier Diamond Dagger.
Although most of Yorke's novels were standalone works of suspense, in 1970 she created her one serial protagonist, Oxford English lterature don and amateur sleuth Dr. Patrick Grant, who appeared in five total novels including Silent Witness (1972), Grave Matters (1973), Mortal Remains (1974) and Cast for Death (1975).Yorke chose the fictional St. Mark's College as Grant's employer and often called on her own job as a college librarian for setting and character details.
Yorke's novel Cast for Death is the final installment featuring the handsome, absent-minded professor Grant, who has a habit of quoting Shakespeare. In fact, Yorke herself once admitted she was "nutty about Shakespeare and mad about Macbeth." The plot centers on the death of actor Sam Irwin, whose body is discovered in the River Thames, an apparent suicide. Grant, who is a friend of Irwin, doesn't buy the suicide angle. After all, why would Irwin have taken his own life shortly before opening in a new play at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre at Stratford?
In pursuing the truth, Grant links seemingly unconnected events including the death of a dog, a second suicide and a series of art robberies. Ultimately, Grant's very life is threatened in a denouement concert at the Festival Hall after he uncovers a deception of theatrical proportions. But Grant's personal philosophy drives him in his quest, mirroring a quote from Edmund Burke used toward the end of the novel, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
During her life, Yorke was also a passionate supporter for public libraries in the U.K. and in 1993 was presented with the Golden Handcuffs award by the British library service for becoming the most-borrowed author.