Forensic archeologist Ruth Galloway is in her late thirties. She lives happily alone with her cats in a remote area near Norfolk, land that was sacred to its Iron Age inhabitants—not quite earth, not quite sea. But her routine is harshly upended when a child’s bones are found on a desolate beach. Detective Chief Inspector Nelson calls Ruth for help, believing the bones to be the remains of Lucy Downey, a little girl who went missing a decade ago and whose abductor taunts him with bizarre letters referencing ritual sacrifice, Shakespeare, and the Bible. Then a second girl goes missing and Nelson receives a new letter—exactly like the ones about Lucy.
Is it the same killer? Or a copycat murderer, linked in some way to the site near Ruth’s remote home?Series: Ruth Galloway Mystery #1 | Publisher: Mariner | Genre: Mystery | Source: Publisher | Rating: 4 CupsChallenges Read For: - 2019 Try Something New
What the Sand gets, the Sand keeps forever.
—The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
This was quite the pleasant surprise. Elly Griffiths has been on my to-read for years. I’ve heard so many people raving about writing so when I was offered a book club box by the publisher, I couldn’t refuse and I’m so glad that I didn’t.
Forensic archeologist Ruth Galloway is brought in to aid DCI Harry Nelson when it’s discovered that an ancient druidic sacrifice could shed light on the case of two missing little girls. In the remote saltmarshes of Norfolk, Ruth’s home and a place where present New Age Druids are still connected to the rituals of the past, Ruth and Harry are left with a string of strange letters they must decode that will hopefully shed light on the girls’ whereabouts. As the investigation proceeds and Ruth’s put in danger, she realizes no one can be trusted.
I enjoyed the characters. Each one added something different and unique to the story and they all had a particular connection to the site where the henge was discovered.
Ruth is almost obsessed with her job to the point it almost consumes her, yet it’s not a bad trait—I mean, if I were able to poke around in the past it would consume me too—it’s made her the interesting woman she’s become. Like most scholars, she’s a little awkward in social situations and it takes her awhile to find her footing when around others yet she’s not afraid to say what she’s thinking. She’s also a little self-conscious about her weight, which I believe comes from the fact her mother’s rather critical about everything she does. She has a circle of friends she made on a dig ten years ago and she’s rather protective of those she’s let in.
I found Ruth to be interesting—she’s the type of person I could see myself being friends with. There’s also a realness to Ruth and I like it when characters feel as though they could step into the real world.
DCI Harry Nelson is a bit hard to read. There’s a brashness to him yet there’s also this gentler side that pops up unexpectedly. He’s work-driven and that’s a good thing but, at the same time, it makes him appear cold. There’s two side to him, a professional side and a personal side and, at times, I feel as though he discontent with his personal like. It’s almost as if he’s searching for an out but doesn’t want to rock the boat and I’m hoping that as the series progresses he figures it out. He’s also a bit unsure at all the archeological stuff Ruth drops on him yet he knows her information is vital to solving the case.
I found that I liked Harry. There’s something about him that makes me want to know more. Although were this a different genre, I’m not sure he would be my favorite, if that makes sense. Hopefully the next few books will clear a few things up.
There’s something between Ruth and Harry. It was obvious from the start but I can’t put my finger on what it is—I’m not sure they really know, either. They just seem to be muddling through figuring out and handling things as they come along. Although in the midst of the unknown, there’s a trust between the two. They know they can count on each other. At times it natural and at other times, it’s awkward, but it’s a solid trust that I think will grow throughout the series.
The atmosphere and the remote setting of the saltmarshes sent shivers down my spine, as did the talk of the past ritualistic sacrifices. Given the land was already steeped in an almost dark history added just another layer of mystery. There was so much to sort through and so many different outcomes, that I was shocked who the killer turned out to be yet not surprised because he was on the top of my suspect list. I enjoyed weeding through the clues and the letters and seeing how each peg fit in their proper hole.
While this does deal with ritual sacrifices, bones, and a few not so much gory but gruesome things it wasn’t over the top or overly explained. Although it’s always a bit harrowing when children are the victims in thriller/mysteries.
This book’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. I don’t want to spoil anything but there’s an event that happens in this book that, had it been in a romance book would have ruined the book for me, yet in this book it didn’t really bother me. I’m not a fan of it—I’m not condoning it—, but seeing as this is a thriller/mystery book I overlooked it.
While I didn’t really have issues with this book, there were a few things that I would have like an explanation about considering they were top events. I feel like that would have rounded out this book more evenly. It wouldn’t change the outcome, I just would have liked to have known why.
Overall, the mystery/thriller aspect blew me away. I’m always up for a bit of British Crime Drama, a bit of history, and bit of archeology so given that the three were combined in this book, I was thrilled. If you’re a newbie to the archeology scene, fear not, everything is explained without confusion and without bogging down the book. And I was pleasantly surprised with some of the friendships that were made within the book.
Ruth Galloway Mystery Series
The Crossing Places
The Janus Stone
The House at Sea’s End
A Room Full of Bones
A Dying Fall
The Outcast Dead
The Ghost Fields
The Woman in Blue
The Chalk Pit
The Dark Angel
The Stone Circle