Although most of British author Margaret Yorke's novels were standalone works of suspense, in 1970 she created her one serial protagonist, Oxford English literature 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."