Thursday, March 29, 2012
The House at Sea's End by Elly Griffiths
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, ISBN 978-0547506142
January 10, 2012, 384 pages
From the publishers descriptions..
"Ruth Galloway has just returned from maternity leave and is struggling to juggle work and motherhood. When a team from the University of North Norfolk, investigating coastal erosion, finds six bodies buried at the foot of the cliff, she is immediately put on the case. DCI Nelson is investigating, but Ruth finds this more hindrance than help...Still, she remains professional and concentrates on the case at hand. Forensic tests prove that the bodies are from Southern Europe, killed sixty years ago. Police Investigations unearth records of Project Lucifer, a wartime plan to stop a German invasion....When a visiting German reporter is killed, Ruth and Nelson realize that someone is still alive who will kill to keep the secret of Broughton Sea's End's war years. Can they discover the truth in time to stop another murder?"
A Room Full of Bones by Elly Griffiths
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, ISBN 978-0547271200
July 3, 2012, 352 pages
"It is Halloween night, and the local museum in King's Lynn is preparing for an unusual event - the opening of a coffin containing the bones of a medieval bishop. But when Ruth Galloway arrives to supervise, she finds the museum's curator lying dead beside the coffin. It is only a matter of time before she and DI Nelson cross paths once more, as he is called in to investigate. Soon the museum's wealthy owner lies dead in his stables too. These two deaths could be from natural causes but Nelson isn't convinced. When threatening letters come to light, events take an even more sinister turn. But as Ruth's friends become involved, where will her loyalties lie? As her convictions are tested, she and Nelson must discover how Aboriginal skulls, drug smuggling and the mystery of The Dreaming may hold the answer to these deaths, and their own survival."
I am a fan of this series, enough so that when I bought the third book in the series, The House at Sea's End, I went ahead and bought the fourth, A Room Full Of Bones, from The Book Depository as well. It will not be published here in the US until July and it was a very wise decision, since the third will leave us with quite the personal cliff hanger for Ruth. Worry not though, the delay will just give you time to catch up. But personally, July is so, so far away and I wanted a BIG Ruth Galloway fix.
Ruth is a big reason I like these books because, while she is a rather unlikely heroine, she is a great character. Overweight and approaching middle age, she gives little attention to her appearance. She is too busy for such matters. She lives in a tiny, lonely house on a deserted Norfolk beach, a place that most people find a bit creepy. She has an odd group of friends, with maybe the most odd and the most charming being Cathbad, who is a self proclaimed Druid, and she has a less than glamorous job as a professor of forensic archaeology at a local college. Well, it was less than glamorous until she got roped into assisting the police, in the person of DI Nelson, in the first two books, with some of the many crimes that seem to arise in the area involving finding some bones. She is becoming rather famous for some of her exploits now and her personal life took a very exciting turn at the end of book two when Ruth finds herself, as they say, with child.
Personally, I love the setting in Norfolk. Yes, it is by the sea, often wet and cold and windswept, but really, what better place for a murder...or murders? Storms, fog, dangerous tides rolling in, what could be better? And of course, with these two books we now have the added delightful character of Ruth's toddler daughter, Kate. Knowing Ruth in the first two books, you might be led to have your doubts about her fitness as a mother, as she does herself, but no worry. Ruth's growing relationship with wee Kate is lovely and we know she will excel at motherhood, if in her own way, as she excels at so many things...in her own way.
Each of these books touches on some very real and quite serious subjects, from life in England during WWII in The House at Sea's End and secrets that some will kill to keep hidden, to the treatment of Aboriginal peoples and their remains and some major drugs deal on the English coast in A Room Full of Bones. But the author spins them with so many other little plots lines, some rather engaging, that it keeps the books from becoming too grim.
A charming series, if a series full of deaths and murder and piles of bones can be said to be charming. And these are! Four books with great characters, a great setting, good solid plots and all well written leads to a strong recommendation.