Note: Spoilers for previous books in this series.
This mystery, the eleventh in the entertaining Ruth Galloway books, is as good as or better than any of the others in the series.
Ruth Galloway, 47, is a self-described overweight forensic archeologist at the (fictional) University of North Norfolk. She occasionally works with Detective Chief Inspector Harry Nelson, 50, of the Norfolk Police. Since Ruth is an expert on bones, the two have teamed up to solve a number of crimes, and Ruth has become seconded to the Serious Crime Unit, which is headed by Nelson.
Nelson works at the King’s Lynn Police Station. In actuality, King’s Lynn is a seaport in Norfolk, England and Norwich is a town in Norfolk. During the 11th century, Norwich was the largest city in England after London, and one of its most important. Thus old bones do in fact get excavated quite frequently. Griffiths integrates many interesting historical aspects of this region into her story lines.
Although Harry is married with two adult daughters (Laura and Rebecca), Ruth and Harry share a daughter, Kate, now 7. Harry’s wife Michelle allows Harry to see Kate but insists that Harry only see Ruth in a professional capacity. As this book begins, Michelle is about to have another baby, which may or may not be Harry’s; she had an affair with one of Nelson’s detective sergeants, Tim Healthfield. Everyone in the know is anxiously awaiting the birth, since Tim (who has since died) is black, and what the baby looks like will indicate who the father is.
Before Michelle’s announcement, Nelson had been considering leaving Michelle for Ruth. But Michelle’s pregnancy changed all that. As for Ruth, she has been dating Frank, a professor at Cambridge who wants to take their relationship further. But emotionally, Ruth is still tied to Nelson.
Meanwhile, a new discovery of bones once again draws Nelson and Ruth together. At an archeological dig, ancient bones are found as expected but also bones perhaps only thirty-some years old of a young teenager. Nelson’s team reopens some cases of missing girls to try to come up with a match.
Members of the team are able to come up with the identity fairly quickly and even a group of suspects, but as usual, everyone is hiding something and the detectives have to sort it out at considerable danger to themselves.
Discussion: I enjoyed this installment a great deal because there was more focus on the relationships among the main characters, who are all likable and funny. The author’s sense of humor is so delightful that I find myself laughing out loud even while reading about murder, but that happens often with the Ruth Galloway series. The women in the book are especially witty in a self-deprecating way. I can’t wait to read more books in the series.
Evaluation: This is a very good series. The characters are complex and likable, and you learn quite a bit about ancient Celtic mythology and archeology.
Published in the U.S. by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019