Dr Ruth Galloway has left behind her beloved Saltmarsh and is now teaching at St. Jude’s College, Cambridge, where she is now living with her daughter, Kate, and partner, Frank. Norfolk pulls her back, though, after convicted murderer Ivor March tells DCI Nelson that he will reveal the whereabouts of the bodies of two missing women, but only if Ruth can do the dig. Reluctantly, she agrees, conducting the dig in a place said to be haunted by the Lantern Men, figures who lure people to their deaths. As the case progresses, more questions begin to be asked: Why was March so insistent that Ruth be the one doing the digging and is, like Cathbad believes, March actually innocent of the crimes he has been convicted of?
It is fair to say that Elly Griffiths is one of my favourite authors and so The Lantern Men was one of the books on my most anticipated list for 2020. Ruth, Nelson, Cathbad and the rest of the characters in this wonderful series have become like old friends, and I could not wait to see what has happened to them since the previous book, The Stone Circle. Well, it’s safe to say that a lot has changed! Ruth has left her job, taking up a new appointment in Cambridge and living with her partner, Frank. We also find Clough working with another police force and Nelson enjoying being a father again, to his two-year-old son, George. It’s not long, though, before Elly Griffiths ‘gets the band together again’, as they investigate the deaths of the women.
Although Ivor March has been convicted of the murders of two of the women, doubt is soon cast as to his involvement when there is a new development. Ivor was definitely a charismatic, unnerving character, but was he a murderer? There were certainly plenty of people (mainly women) keen to see his conviction quashed, and Elly Griffiths has done a great job in introducing a smorgasbord of potential suspects, each one of them connected to March through his involvement with a local artistic commune. These characters were all suspicious in their own right, and I spent the book trying to figure out who, if any of them, were involved.
One of the things I enjoy most about this series is how archaeology and modern police forensics work hand in hand and this is certainly apparent is The Lantern Men. I love how archaeologist Ruth appears to be at her happiest when up to her knees in soil, yet worries about her appearance whenever Nelson is around! The relationship between these two characters is as complex as ever and with more and more people seemingly aware of their connection, this leads to some uncomfortable moments for them both.
I had no doubt that I would enjoy this book, but The Lantern Men managed to exceed my already high expectations. Heart-stopping in moments, this is an excellent addition to an already superb series. I look forward to seeing where Elly Griffiths takes Ruth next.
With thanks to Net Galley and Quercus for my copy.
Take a look at my reviews for the rest of this series: