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Ruth Galloway

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 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

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.

The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths

Talgarth School teacher, Clare Cassidy, is an expert on the author R. M. Holland and teaches his short story, The Stranger, as part of a course every year. When the body of her friend and colleague, Ella, is found at her home, suspicions arise when a quote from Holland is found alongside her horrific injuries. For many years an avid diary writer, Clare commits her feelings about Ella to paper only to find that there is some strange writing in her journal, writing that is not hers…

As a huge fan of the Ruth Galloway and Stephens & Mephisto series by Elly Griffiths, I could not wait to read this new standalone novel. When you love an author so much, there is always some slight trepidation, however, as to whether something new will live up to your expectations. This is Elly Griffiths – of course it did!

Although many books have the story told by multiple characters, I enjoyed the way the author used this device to retell events from different perspectives. First, we have Clare, the main protagonist. As the book progresses, we see her becoming more and more unnerved as she realises how interested the killer appears to be in her. Then, there is her daughter, Georgie. With an older boyfriend and a hidden interest in creative writing, does she know more about the crime than she is letting on? Finally, there is the detective investigating the case, D. S. Harbinder Kaur. An ex-Talgarth pupil herself, she is a great character who, despite the seriousness of the case, provides some very light-hearted moments.

While this could definitely be described as a murder-mystery plot, the inclusion of the mysterious diary entries and the ghostly undercurrent at the school, gives it a slight air of the supernatural. I admit to not being a huge fan of ‘ghost’ stories, but Elly Griffiths has provided just enough of this genre to make it a completely believable read. I particularly enjoyed reading the snippets of R. M. Holland’s The Stranger which were included throughout the book. This provided a Gothic feel and certainly helped to ramp up the tension.

The end of the book had a credible conclusion and, with hindsight, it became apparent that clues had been dotted throughout. The Stranger Diaries has a well-crafted, enjoyable plot and I thoroughly enjoyed reading every page. Definitely one of my favourite reads of the year!

With thanks to Net Galley and Quercus for my ARC.

 

The Dark Angel by Elly Griffiths

Feeling troubled by the events in the previous book, Dr. Ruth Galloway is pleased when a face from her past, Dr. Angelo Morelli, contacts her, seeking her assistance on bones that have been discovered in a small Italian village. Accompanied by her friend Shona and their children, they head off to the continent, where they find a village still clinging on to memories of the Second World War and the Resistance. The past and present collide however, when the body of a local is found in the church. What secrets lurk that would make someone kill to protect?

I was very late in discovering the Ruth Galloway series by Elly Griffiths but since reading my first one two years ago, I have devoured the books and was eagerly anticipating this one. Taking Ruth out of her comfort zone is a big gamble but is one that’s has definitely paid off and it has enabled us to take a peek into her past whilst also exploring more of her relationship with best friend, Shona. Although Ruth is brought to Italy on the premise of assisting with recently discovered bones, the archaeology takes a bit of a back seat as she realises that there are more pressing matters that threaten their idyllic break. Somebody clearly doesn’t want Ruth there and she begins to fear, rightly so, that her life may be in danger.

I had feared that with the story being set in Italy, we would see less of the other characters we have come to know and love, but this was not to be the case. Running alongside the main plot, is a sub-plot about a released prisoner who bears a grudge against DCI Harry Nelson. Despite having this and huge upheaval in his personal life to contend with, Nelson finds his way out to Italy, accompanied by Cathbad, when news of a disaster reaches him. Throughout the books, we have seen Nelson struggle with his feelings for Ruth and this becomes even more heightened due to everything that is currently going on in his life. He is becoming more and more of a tortured soul and, depending upon the climax of a particular storyline, we could soon see him being tipped firmly over the edge!

The most shocking part of the book is reserved for the final chapters when a major event occurs that will have repercussions for several of the characters. Without going into too much detail, I was genuinely upset by what happened but, at the same time, can’t wait to see what the consequences will be.

If you have never read any of the Ruth Galloway series, please do as I don’t feel you will be disappointed. For anyone who is already a fan, The Dark Angel is a welcome addition to an already brilliant series.

With thanks to Quercus and Net Galley for my ARC.

 

My Eagerly Anticipated Books of 2018

Continue reading “My Eagerly Anticipated Books of 2018”

The Zig Zag Girl by Elly Griffiths

When the body of a young woman is found, cut into three pieces, Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens is instantly reminded of a magic trick known as the Zig Zag Girl. He seeks out the inventor of the trick, Max Mephisto, a magician who is still performing his act up and down the country, and someone who Stephens knew from the war when they were members of a ‘secret’ unit known as The Magic Men. Initially, Max is reluctant to help with the investigation until it becomes apparent that he knew the victim. When another victim is found, it becomes apparent that The Magic Men are being targeted. Will any of them be able to escape with their lives?

I am a huge fan of the Ruth Galloway series by Elly Griffiths and so I felt that it was high time that I gave her other series a read. The Zig Zag Girl is the first of the Stephens and Mephisto series, set in 1950 in Brighton, a time when the memories of World War Two were still fresh in the minds of all those involved. It is no surprise, then, that wartime events play a prominent role in the plot.

The story is a macabre one, with victims being dispatched in a variety of ways – all linked to magic tricks that have been performed onstage. The magic provides a link to the role of Stephens and Mephisto during the war when they were tasked to develop ways of creating illusions as a way of tricking the enemy. We also meet several others who formed part of this unit and it was fun trying to figure out who, if any of them, was the killer and which of them would be killed.

One of the main strengths in The Zig Zag Girl is the characterization of the main protagonists. They are a proper mismatched pair with the staid Stephens being a massive contrast to the more flamboyant Mephisto. Despite this, they work really well as a double act and complement each other perfectly. I also loved reading scenes involving Stephens and his mother and found their relationship real yet humorous.

This is definitely a series I will be continuing with and I already have the next book lined up!

Top 5 Wednesday: Fictional Jobs You’d Want to Have

As the majority of my reading comes from the crime genre, it was inevitable that most of my inspiration for this post would come from there!

Ruth Galloway – Forensic Archaeologist

img_0987Although her main job is that of a university lecturer, Dr. Ruth Galloway has become more well-known for her work in advising the police force in cases involving the discovery of skeletal remains and other buried items. At times, this has been quite a dangerous career move but it’s definitely never boring! I think I’d give the parts where she is pursued by crazed gunmen a miss though!

 

Jefferson Tayte – Genealogist

To some people, spending time in record offices and traipsing around old churchyards might sound like their idea of a nightmare, but for me it’s like a dream come true! As someone who researches their family history, this is a career that I could definitely see myself doing one day! Again, though, preferably without the people trying to kill me to keep secrets hidden!

 

Robert Langdon – Symbologist

infernoWho wouldn’t relish the chance of travelling round Europe, visiting significant museums, galleries and places of worship? Having access to places that the ordinary person would never get to see whilst solving codes in order to protect mankind sounds like my idea of fun!

 

 

Miss Honey – Teacher9780141365466

This would be a busman’s holiday for me but which teacher would not be happy with a class of happy, well-behaved, intelligent children? Of course, having a child like Matilda in your class would be good for the end of day tidying up too!

 

Willy Wonka – Chocolate Factory Owner

charlie_and_the_chocolate_factoryIt’s back to Roald Dahl for my final choice. Inventing new chocolates and sweets and owning the most fantastic chocolate factory in the world is every child’s dream! Pair that with the highly entertaining Oompa Loompas and work would be an enjoyable experience every day!

Top 5 Wednesday: Books to Get You Out of a Reading Slump

I’ve been looking for ideas for something different to post on my blog so was pleased to discover the Goodreads ‘Top 5 Wednesday‘ group. While I can’t promise to partake every Wednesday, I’m going to give it a good try!

Today’s topic is an interesting one. While I’ve never really experienced a reading slump, there are some books that, over the years, I’ve returned to numerous times when I didn’t really know what to read next. There are also a few series where I know I could pick up any one of the books at any time to read.

1. Ruth Rendell, Shake Hands For Ever

img_1038I have been a huge fan of Ruth Rendell’s Inspector Wexford novels ever since seeing the first one on TV. This one is, by far, my favourite and one that I have read and watched numerous times. When a woman is found strangled in her own home, Chief Inspector Wexford undertakes an investigation that soon turns into an obsession, threatening his career. He knows who the killer is, but can he prove it before it is too late?

2. Sue Townsend, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13¾

img_1040I remember reading this book at a fairly young age and, despite probably not understanding everything at the time, finding it incredibly funny. This series is one that I pick up every few years as each book is a quick read and guarantees me a good laugh. Detailing the trials and tribulations of teenager Adrian Mole, he writes candidly about his parents’ marital troubles, teenage angst and his love for Pandora Braithwaite.

3. Enid Blyton, The Mystery of the Missing Necklace

img_1039Enid Blyton’s ‘Five Find-Outers’ books were probably what encouraged my love of crime/mystery books. As a child, this one was always my favourite, and I remember taking it out of the school library to read at least once every year! I recently purchased a box set of this series and can’t wait to revisit my childhood in one of those rare reading lulls! In The Mystery of the Missing Necklace, someone is stealing jewels but when an expensive necklace goes missing and the police are stumped, it is up to the children to save the day.

4. Elly Griffiths’ ‘Ruth Galloway’ series

img_1041A recent convert to the novels of Elly Griffiths, I have, over the past year, read each one of the ‘Ruth Galloway’ series. Ruth, an archaeologist, teaches at university but is also developing a reputation for being the go-to person when the local police unearth human remains. These are books that I know, in time, I will read over and over again.

5. Steve Robinson’s ‘Jefferson Tayte’ series

img_1042Genealogical mysteries are a fairly new addition to the world of fiction and there are some great authors writing in this genre. For me, however, the best has to be Steve Robinson and his Jefferson Tayte novels. Tayte, a genealogist, tackles the family mysteries that others can’t solve and, more often than not, finds himself in danger when doing so! Even though I have only read these books once, I know that they will definitely be revisited at some point as they are so well-written.

 

 

 

 

 

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