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A Girl Called Justice: The Ghost in the Garden by Elly Griffiths

A new girl arrives at Highbury House School for the Daughters of Gentlefolk. She’s never been to school before and seems to take great delight in breaking all the rules yet the teachers don’t seem to care. The mischief becomes more serious, however, when one of the girls disappears and a ransom for her return is delivered. With a ghost spotted in the garden and threatening notes being written on the pages of one of her mother’s books, amateur sleuth Justice Jones, has another case on her hands.

Despite being ‘slightly’ older than the intended audience, this is a series that I am loving! Growing up, my favourite books were Enid Blyton’s Five Find Outers series and I have always loved the idea of children becoming amateur sleuths, something that I probably secretly longed to be myself! In Justice Jones, we have a strong, likeable character, one who would not be out of place in any of Blyton’s boarding school books. The supporting cast are just as good, and I particularly like the relationship Justice has with one of the maids, highlighting the class inequality that existed at the time.

This is a well-written mystery story with clues revealed throughout the book, even though you don’t know it at the time. I liked how even what seemed like a throwaway comment ended up forming part of the plot, making you suspicious of everyone and everything!

I’m a huge fan of Elly Griffiths’ Brighton Mysteries and her Ruth Galloway series, and this is another one that has got me hooked!

The Night Hawks by Elly Griffiths

Dr Ruth Galloway is back in her cottage in Norfolk and is ready to start work after receiving a promotion. It is not long, however, before paths cross with DCI Nelson when a body is found washed up on the beach by a group of metal detectorists known as the Night Hawks. Thought to be an unfortunate asylum seeker, this theory is soon quashed when he is identified as Jem Taylor, a local man who has recently been released from prison. A second incident is declared when the bodies of a man and woman are found at Black Dog Farm. Initially believed to be a murder-suicide, evidence later puts this in doubt and when the body of a large dog is found buried in the garden, talk begins of the Black Shuck, a legendary dog who is seen as the harbinger of death…


The thirteenth book in the Ruth Galloway series sees Ruth back where she belongs but this time she is now the head of department after the previous incumbent, Phil, has taken retirement. Long time readers of this series will find some of Ruth’s comments about grants and funding amusing as she realises after all her years of berating Phil for similar comments, she is now saying the same things! It is these small things that make me love this series so much, the characters feeling like old friends who I look forward to catching up with every year! New character, David Brown, is an interesting addition to the mix. A new employee at the university, Ruth isn’t sure what to make of him and neither are we as readers. He is definitely someone I would like to see in subsequent books as he definitely has the potential to replace Phil as Ruth’s sparring partner!


As has been the theme throughout the series, we see Ruth’s complicated relationship with DCI Nelson impacting on both her personal and professional life. We have gone way past the ‘will they, won’t they?’ aspect of their lives, but Elly Griffiths still manages to keep us guessing as to what will happen between them. The ending of this book, in particular, has left me wondering what is on the horizon.


The setting of the Ruth Galloway books has always been one of their strengths and the coast and countryside of Norfolk has again provided a superb backdrop to the plot. It was easy to visualise the murder scene at the desolate Black Dog Farm, the eerie atmosphere giving credence to the legend of the Black Shuck. This also gave us the opportunity to enter the world of everyone’s favourite druid, Cathbad, who finds himself involved with the Night Hawks on their excavations.


Elly Griffiths never lets me down and The Night Hawks is another superb book in this series. I hope it won’t be too long before we find out what happens as a result of the final scene!


With thanks to Quercus and Net Galley for my ARC.


Take a look at my reviews for the rest of this series:

The Crossing Places

The Janus Stone

The House at Sea’s End

A Room Full of Bones

Ruth’s First Christmas Tree

A Dying Fall

The Outcast Dead

The Ghost Fields

The Woman in Blue

The Chalk Pit

The Dark Angel

The Stone Circle

The Lantern Men

The Postscript Murders by Elly Griffiths

When 90-year-old Peggy Smith dies at home, her carer, Natalka, is not convinced that it is from natural causes and seeks out the advice of DS Harbinder Kaur. The detective’s interest is piqued when it is discovered that Peggy was a ‘murder consultant’, helping authors to plot the deaths of their characters, and that she was convinced that someone was watching her. When another death is reported and connections are made to Peggy, could Natalka be right? Is there a killer on the loose?

Last year, I read The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths and one of the standout characters was the detective, Harbinder Kaur. I was thrilled, therefore, to see that she would be featured in a further novel, investigating another case of murder. If you have not read The Stranger Diaries, then don’t worry as this can be read as a standalone, giving you the opportunity to go back and read it after this one!

In The Postscript Murders, Elly Griffiths has created a superb array of supporting characters, each one bringing something different to the story. Even though her time in the book was short-lived, I thought Peggy was a great character and I enjoyed finding out more about her as her friends investigated her death. These friends were an odd combination of people and you may wonder how an elderly gentleman, a former monk who runs a coffee shop and a Ukrainian care worker come to work together to solve the murder! These unlikely sleuths make a great team, however, contributing brilliantly to the plot.

Although there are several deaths and plenty of intrigue, this is by no means a gory mystery, the book being laced with humour and numerous light-hearted and poignant moments. The Postscript Murders is a very enjoyable mystery story, easy to read and ideal for those long autumn nights. Fans of Elly Griffiths are going to love this and, hopefully, new fans will be introduced to this fantastic writer.

With thanks to Quercus and Net Galley for my copy of The Postscript Murders.

Take a look at my review of The Stranger Diaries.

 

 

Grave’s End by William Shaw

GravesWhen the body of a man is found stuffed into a freezer in an unoccupied house, DS Alexandra Cupidi finds herself drawn into a case where people will stop at nothing to keep a decades-old secret hidden. What exactly did this man do to warrant his death and how does it connect to the nearby housing development and the people trying to stop the habitat of badgers from being destroyed? Somebody doesn’t want something found and will kill to protect it from being uncovered.

I have read many crime books, too many to mention, but I can honestly say that this is the first book I have read where part of it is written from the perspective of a badger! Bear with me – this isn’t as strange as it sounds! As much of the book is based around the land where there is a proposed housing development, in addition to getting the experiences of the environmentalists and the developers, I found it an extremely novel idea to learn how this would affect the badgers themselves. As well as this helping to advance the plot, I also found myself learning much about the hierarchy of these creatures and how they live their lives.

The plot progresses slowly, the first half focusing on the dead man and the police investigation into his murder. I found that once I got halfway in, the pace really ramped up as the real reason for the death was discovered. Without giving too much away, we discover that there are links to a closed boarding school, and the activities that took place there many years ago. I liked how William Shaw included a vast array of characters who made you wonder if they were as they seemed or whether they had something to hide. I found my opinion of several of these characters changing constantly as I tried to discover who was behind the death!

Grave’s End is a great read, dealing with some very emotive issues. Although it is the third in a series, it can be read as a standalone although I can definitely recommend the previous books.

With thanks to Quercus and Net Galley for my copy.

A Girl Called Justice by Elly Griffiths

After the death of her mother, Justice Jones is packed off to Highbury House Boarding School for the Daughters of Gentlefolk. It doesn’t take the young sleuth long to realise that something strange is underfoot. Rumours circulate about the suspicious death of a former maid so when a teacher is also found dead, Justice embarks on a mission to solve the crimes. Putting her own life at risk in the process, will she manage to prevent further tragedies from occurring?

Elly Griffiths is one of my favourite authors and I am a huge fan of both her Ruth Galloway and Stephens & Mephisto series. Some time ago, I bought A Girl Called Justice as a prize for a girl in my class (she’s a fellow crime fiction fan!) and she has since declared it her favourite book and urged me to read it. After letting me borrow her copy, I can see why she enjoyed it so much!

Set in pre-war England, A Girl Called Justice took me right back to my childhood, with memories of Enid Blyton’s Malory Towers series mixed with her Five Find Outers books. Justice is a great character: despite the tragic reasons for her being at the boarding school, her tenacity shines through from the second she discovers that something is afoot at Highbury House. I liked how she didn’t really fit in with the rest of the girls, breaking the rules to befriend one of the maids instead, although I was pleased when she found a kindred spirit amongst the other girls in her dorm.

The mystery is well-paced with enough gruesomeness to keep children enthralled without ever being too scary. This is exactly the sort of book I would have loved when I was a child, and I am looking forward to reading the follow-up, The Smugglers’ Secret. My pupil has already told me that this is on her reading list!

 

The Lantern Men by Elly Griffiths

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:

The Crossing Places

The Janus Stone

The House at Sea’s End

A Room Full of Bones

Ruth’s First Christmas Tree

A Dying Fall

The Outcast Dead

The Ghost Fields

The Woman in Blue

The Chalk Pit

The Dark Angel

The Stone Circle

My Eagerly Anticipated Books of 2020

I’m pleased to say that the books I was most looking forward to in 2019 were all I hoped them to be. This year, as always, I will be hoping for new books from Patricia Gibney, Ian Rankin, Mark Billingham, Angela Marsons, Steve Robinson and David Jackson amongst others. Here are the books I am looking forward to in 2020 which already have publication dates:

The Lantern Men by Elly Griffiths

Published by Quercus on 6th February 2020

Everything has changed for Dr Ruth Galloway.

She has a new job, home and partner, and is no longer North Norfolk police’s resident forensic archaeologist. That is, until convicted murderer Ivor March offers to make DCI Nelson a deal. Nelson was always sure that March killed more women than he was charged with. Now March confirms this, and offers to show Nelson where the other bodies are buried – but only if Ruth will do the digging.

Curious, but wary, Ruth agrees. March tells Ruth that he killed four more women and that their bodies are buried near a village bordering the fens, said to be haunted by the Lantern Men, mysterious figures holding lights that lure travellers to their deaths.

Is Ivor March himself a lantern man, luring Ruth back to Norfolk? What is his plan, and why is she so crucial to it? And are the killings really over?

 

The Postscript Murders by Elly Griffiths

Published by Quercus on 1st October 2010

PS: Thanks for the murders.

The death of a ninety-year-old woman with a heart condition should absolutely not be suspicious. DS Harbinder Kaur certainly sees nothing to concern her in carer Natalka’s account of Peggy Smith’s death.

But when Natalka reveals that Peggy lied about her heart condition and that she had been sure someone was following her…
And that Peggy Smith had been a ‘murder consultant’ who plotted deaths for authors, and knew more about murder than anyone has any right to…
And when clearing out Peggy’s flat ends in Natalka being held at gunpoint by a masked figure…

Well then DS Harbinder Kaur thinks that maybe there is no such thing as an unsuspicious death after all.

 

Fifty Fifty by Steve Cavanagh

Published by Orion on 23rd July 2020

Two sisters on trial for murder. Both accuse each other.
Who do YOU believe?

Alexandra Avellino has just found her father’s mutilated body, and needs the police right away. She believes her sister killed him, and that she is still in the house with a knife.

Sofia Avellino has just found her father’s mutilated body and needs the police right away. She believes her sister, Alexandra did it, and that she is still in the house, locked in the bathroom.

Both women are to go on trial at the same time. A joint trial in front of one jury.

But one of these women is lying. One of them is a murderer. Sitting in a jail cell, about to go on trial with her sister for murder, you might think that this is the last place she expected to be.

You’d be wrong.

 

Buried by Lynda La Plante

Published by Zaffre on 2nd April 2020

DC Jack Warr and his girlfriend Maggie have just moved to London to start a new life together. Though charming, Jack can’t seem to find his place in the world – until he’s drawn into an investigation that turns his life upside down.

In the aftermath of a fire at an isolated cottage, a badly charred body is discovered, along with the burnt remains of millions of stolen, untraceable bank notes.

Jack’s search leads him deep into a murky criminal underworld – a world he finds himself surprisingly good at navigating. But as the line of the law becomes blurred, how far will Jack go to find the answers – and what will it cost him?

 

Shadow Sands by Robert Bryndza

Published by Sphere on 20th October 2020

A DETECTIVE IN FREE FALL
After solving an all-too-personal case that almost cost her everything, Kate Marshall is struggling. And when she discovers two disembowelled bodies floating in a local reservoir, things go from bad to worse.

UNTIL SOMEONE MAKES HER AN OFFER TOO GOOD TO REFUSE
But Kate is given a chance to get her life back on track when she is asked to solve a decades-old mystery. The Shadow Sands reservoir was plagued by gruesome deaths for years, and now the murders have started again.

NOW, SHE’S BACK ON THE HUNT FOR A LEGENDARY KILLER
Kate and her assistant Tristan are dragged into a shady world of family secrets, deadly legends and grisly murders. It’s a case that throws up more questions than answers, and someone is desperate to keep the truth buried at any cost. The clock is ticking and Kate must delve deep into the past if she wants to stop more victims turning up dead at Shadow Sands.

 

The Body in the Snow by Nick Louth

Published by Canelo on 31st January 2020

A young detective is out for a jog on a snowy winter morning. Then she sees something terrible: a murder in the park, sudden and inexplicable. A woman has been killed by a passing hooded cyclist.

It’s just DCI Craig Gillard’s luck that he’s on duty. The body is that of Tanvi Roy, one of the richest women in Britain and matriarch of a food empire. With a tangled web of family and business contacts and jealousies, Gillard’s job just got even more complex.

As he delves deeper into the Roy family, it’s clear that everything is not as it seems. As the investigation threatens to unravel, Gillard realises it’s only the beginning of his problems. Trouble of a different sort is brewing close to home…

 

Are you looking forward to reading any of these? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

 

 

Now You See Them by Elly Griffiths

It has been ten years since the events in The Vanishing Box and things have certainly moved on! Edgar Stephens, now a superintendent, has finally got his act together and is married to his former DS, Emma Holmes, and is the father of three children. Edgar’s friend, Max Mephisto, has made the move to America where he is now a film star, married with children, while his daughter, Ruby, is now the star of her own television show, Ruby Magic.

Now something has brought them all back together in Brighton, stirring up memories of the past. Meanwhile, Edgar is investigating the disappearance of a local schoolgirl, Rhonda Miles, and there are concerns that there could be a connection to two other missing women. With the culprit seemingly close to home, will disaster be averted or will their reunion bring heartache?

For me, Elly Griffiths is one of those authors who automatically moves up your TBR list, no matter how many books you already have to read! Ever since attending a talk she did with William Shaw at Waterstones, I have been excited to see what had happened to Stephens and Mephisto, especially as there is such a gap in time between the setting of this book and its predecessor. I had so many questions at the start of the book, all of which were answered really quickly, leaving me to enjoy the latest installment of the Brighton Mysteries.

In Now You See Them, we see the characters move away from the theatre, the setting of much of the previous books. As a result, we see a lot more police work, with a new officer, Meg Connolly, being added to the team. I really liked Meg who, as a woman, is finding it frustrating that she is forbidden from doing the same tasks as the male officers. She has the potential to be a great character, and, although she is still young, I don’t think it will be too long before she is climbing up the promotion ladder. We also see a different side of Emma who, after years of bringing up her children, is desperate to get back to work. It will be interesting to see what will happen in the future as a result of her revelation at the end of the book.

There are several other events in the book placing it firmly in the 1960s. A well-known film star is in the area, scouting out locations, giving the local teenage girls the opportunity to get up-close. With this, and references to The Beatles and Top of the Pops, we see a time when teenagers were beginning to become more prominent in society. Perhaps, the most iconic event in the book, however, is the clash between the Mods and the Rockers which took place on Brighton beach in 1964. This provided a great backdrop to the crime, highlighting how difficult it was for Edgar and his team, as they battle to keep order whilst trying to find the missing women.

I really enjoyed meeting up with Stephens and Mephisto again and particularly loved how we see the women starting to want to follow their own career paths. I do hope that book 6 is in the pipeline as I can’t wait to see how Emma’s plans affect her life with Edgar!

With thanks to Quercus Books and Net Galley for my copy of Now You See Them, which can be pre-ordered now and will be published on 3rd October 2019.

 

 

The Stone Circle by Elly Griffiths

51XNmugmAfL._SY346_Dr Ruth Galloway and DCI Nelson are taken back to the case that brought them together when the detective begins to receive anonymous letters. Bearing a striking resemblance to the correspondence he received during his investigation into a missing child, he knows that the author cannot be the same person as he is dead, so who is it this time? When the body of a child is found and another is reported missing, Nelson fears that history may be repeating itself.

After the revelations in the previous book, I could not wait to read The Stone Circle and discover the outcome of one of the biggest mysteries of the series so far – just who is the father of Michelle’s baby?! Thankfully, we don’t have to wait too long as the birth occurs quite early on, but you will have to read it yourself to find out the answer! I did enjoy reading more about Michelle in this book, the missing child plot giving us the opportunity to see her as someone other than Nelson’s wife.

There are strong references to the first in this series, The Crossing Places, so while it is not essential to have read the previous ten books, it is advisable as there are several spoilers. I enjoyed this link to the past as it set me thinking about how much has changed for Ruth in the intervening years. While Ruth’s personal life is a key part of this series, I have always liked how Elly Griffiths creates a perfect balance between this and the police investigation.

One of the things I enjoy most about this series is the way modern police investigation, led by Nelson, works alongside Ruth’s archaeology. We get plenty of opportunities to see this in action in The Stone Circle with the discovery of the remains of two bodies, one much older than the other. This time, however, Ruth takes a bit of a back seat, the digging being organised by the rather shadowy Leif, providing another link to the aforementioned previous case. He was one of the few characters I did not like in this book and I enjoyed a particular scene when Nelson made his feelings towards him as clear as day!

After the heart-stopping moments of the previous book, The Dark Angel, I was pleased that this one didn’t have the same shock factor as I don’t think I could have coped with a similar dramatic ending! Despite this, there are still plenty of shocking moments, not least when we finally discover the truth behind the cold case. The Stone Circle has a very entertaining plot and Elly Griffiths keeps you guessing right until the end.

I always feel slightly bereft after completing the latest Elly Griffiths book and am already looking forward to the next one. If you have never read any her previous books, be it the Ruth Galloway series, Stephens and Mephisto series, or the standalone The Stranger Diaries, then you won’t regret making one of them your next read!

With thanks to Quercus and Net Galley for my ARC.

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