I love binge-reading! When I discover a good author like Elly Griffiths who has ten books in her crime oeuvre, I am ready, willing and able to read all. The archaeologist Dr Ruth Galloway mystery series fits the bill nicely. To quote the Independent ‘The perfect ratio of anticipation, shock and surprise’.
Elly Griffiths is the pen name of Domenica de Rosa; she has written other novels under her real name. I like the historical and archaeological authenticity of this series which could be due to the fact that she’s married to Andrew Maxted, curator of archaeology at Brighton Museum.
I enjoyed the earlier books and then the later ones shown above. I loved ‘The Ghost Fields’ WWII story and found award-winning ‘The Chalk Pit’ quite fascinating. I struggled with ‘The Outcast Dead’ subject matter although it is fitting. I must mention the clever yet sneaky outcome of ‘The Dying Fall’ which has a touch of Hollywood about it.
The stories mainly revolve around Norfolk UK, tidal marshlands, excavations (with an occasional nod to ‘Time Team’) coastal regions and fictional University of North Norfolk where Ruth Galloway works. She is also a police adviser. The relationships of the key players are intriguingly tricky because of love triangles, children, 21st century parenting, murder and mystical goings-on.
Rather than a book review, I thought I’d do a quick character overview:
- Dr Ruth Galloway lives on the Saltmarsh, lectures in forensic archeology, makes ground-breaking discoveries, and likes old bones and her cat Flint.
- Fast-driving policeman DCI Harry Nelson moved with his family from Blackpool to Norfolk and doesn’t really like the place but he’s a born copper.
- Two glamorous women, Michelle Nelson is wife of DCI Nelson, and Shona MacLean is Ruth’s bestie.
- Michael Malone (aka Cathbad) brings enjoyable highlights to each plot with his spiritual insights, Druid instincts and flowing cloak.
- Part of Nelson’s team are police officers DS David Clough ‘old school’ and DS Judy Johnson ‘graduate’ who don’t always share the same views.
- Phil Trent, professor of archaeology at UNN, worries about funding but loves TV cameras, publicity and himself.
As I dug and sifted through the series, I noticed less archeology and gradual changes to the main characters but that’s the grit which makes these books human and relatable. There’s drama in their lives; a rocky layer or two over a conspiracy waiting to be uncovered.
Elly Griffiths has a nice knack of getting you up-to-speed with each book while revealing a ‘fresh’ crime involving the living and the desiccated. At one stage I quibbled over her use of Anglo male names like Max, Dan, Tim, Tom, Ted, Bob, well, you get my drift…but this has improved and the VIP reviews keep on coming:
"I refuse to apologise for being in love with Dr Ruth Galloway and DCI Harry Nelson, one of my favourite current crime series . . . a pleasure from start to finish" Val McDermid. "I adore the Elly Griffiths series and have eagerly read each book. I love seeing how the recurring characters are living and working out their relationships" Joyce of joycesmysteryandfictionbookreviews
I’m waiting for book No.11 ‘The Stone Circle’ but don’t you hang around, start reading!
♥ Gretchen Bernet-Ward
—NEWS FLASH NEW BOOKS—
Ruth Galloway Mystery series book No.12 ‘The Lantern Men’ (2020) and book No.13 ‘The Night Hawk’ (2021)