Archeology has always fascinated me because there is so much to learn from the past. And it is all around us, just waiting to be uncovered.
Granted, there is a lot more past under the ground in Norfolk, England than there is here in Twentynine Palms, CA. But then, people have been living there for a lot longer than they have been able to survive out here in the open desert. Not to say that there haven't been cultures here in the past, but the climate is not as amenable to village and community growth.
Britain has known thousands of years of settlements. So there is a lot more for archeologists to uncover. Dr. Ruth Galloway is one of those who love to work in the dirt and the trenches of history. Lest I confuse anyone, Dr. Galloway is not real, but a figment of the lively immagination of Elly Griffiths and the star of a mystery series set in the Norfolk area of East Anglia.
Elly Griffiths' novels are filled with a very strong sense of place. Much like Ian Rankin's Edinburgh, the north Norfolk shore is another character of the story. However, that is about all that her novels share with Ian Rankin. There is a lighter weight in these books that aim to entertain, and regularly hit their target.
I began this series with the first book, The Crossing Places and was disappointed with how quickly I solved the mystery. As much as I enjoyed the characters and the setting, I found the plot too simple for my tastes and decided to give up on the series. But then, as the days passed I found myself drawn back by the characters and the setting and for some reason read yet another book in this series, The Janus Stone.
In the Janus Stone, the plotting was much stronger and the characters were as engaging as they were in the introductory novel. And by the third novel, The House at Sea's End, I was completely hooked. Here was a series that did not encroach into my dreams at night but focused my attention firmly enough to allow total escape while being read.
I think this reviewer, Jack Batten, writing for The Toronto Star captured much of Elly Griffiths charm:
With the Elly Griffiths novels, the appeal lies in her books’ tone. Griffiths, a pseudonym for an Englishwoman named Domenica de Rosa, has found a writing voice that comfortably accommodates murder, romantic hijinks that veer close to soap opera and mysterious events of a sort favoured by writers of cozies. It sounds like a load that might make an ordinary little crime novel bend at the knees.On the other hand, she has no problem in painting a rather gloomy, landscape filled with
Yet as a writer, Griffith is far from ordinary — and a long way short of exotic. Working in her lightly comic style, she soon conveys the idea that, while serious business is often afoot in her books, along with fairly twisty yarns, it’s not anything worth losing sleep over. What we have here, Griffith keeps reminding us in her very personal way, is an entertainment. So, she’s saying, don’t go all gloomy on me.
mysterious whispers of past lives.
“Everything is pale and washed out, grey-green merging to grey-white as the marsh meets sky. Far off is the sea, a line of darker grey, seagulls riding in on the waves. It is utterly desolate and Ruth has absolutely no idea why she loves it so much.”
The Crossing Places
From her website:
Written in clear, straightforward prose, The Crossing Places introduces us to the characters in an easy mystery. The haunting landscape, and its secondary characters, including a Druid, help draw you into this tale.When a child’s bones are found on a desolate Norfolk beach, Detective Chief Inspector Harry Nelson calls in forensic archaeologist Dr Ruth Galloway. Nelson thinks he has found the remains of Lucy Downey, a little girl who went missing ten years ago. Since her disappearance he has been receiving bizarre letters about her, letters with references to witchcraft, ritual and sacrifice.
The bones actually turn out to be two thousand years old but Ruth is soon drawn into the Lucy Downey case and into the mind of the letter writer, who seems to have both archaeological knowledge and eerie psychic powers. Then another child goes missing and the hunt is on to find her. As the letter writer moves closer and the windswept Norfolk landscape exerts its power, Ruth finds herself in completely new territory – and in serious danger.
Ruth Galloway is an overweight, unmarried, 40 year-old professor of forensic archeology at the North Norfolk University who loves Bruce Springsteen's music and Ian Rankin's novels. She lives with her two cats in an isolated cottage on her cherished marsh on the north coast.
Detective Chief Inspector Harry Nelson is from Blackpool, married to a drop dead blonde with two teen-aged daughters. He hates the Norfolk coast. The interaction between Ruth and Harry create predictable (and enjoyable) sparks.
Again, from Elly Griffiths' website:
When a child’s body is found buried under a Victorian mansion, Ruth is called in to investigate. The police, led by Detective Chief Inspector Harry Nelson, discover that the house used to be a Catholic children’s home. Nelson finds out that, forty years ago, two children went missing from the home. Is the body one of the missing children or does it go back to the days when the building housed an eccentric but very influential family?This is where Griffiths' plotting becomes stronger and more complex. Also more satisfying. The fact that Ruth discovers she is pregnant adds weight to her character as well as her frame.
Meanwhile, Ruth is involved with the excavation of a Roman villa in the Norfolk countryside. There the archaeologists find a child’s bones buried under a doorway. They think the child may have been a ‘foundation sacrifice’, an offering to Janus, the two-faced Roman God of doorways. The God of endings and beginnings.
Ruth finds herself getting close to another archaeologist on the dig but her relationship with Nelson is also becoming increasingly tense. Then strange things start happening – headless animals are found on the site and Ruth’s name appears, written in blood. Finally, an even more gruesome discovery makes Ruth realise that someone still believes in the old, savage Gods. Someone who is prepared to kill...
Broughton Sea’s End is the end of the line, a lonely seaside village slowly being destroyed by coastal erosion. A team of archaeologists studying the erosion comes across human skeletons buried below Sea’s End House, the fortress home of eccentric local MEP Jack Hastings.This novel deals with family. With how we treat each other as family members, how hard it is to balance work and family, and how we remember each other.
Forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway is called in to investigate. Ruth has just returned to work after the birth of her daughter and is finding it hard to combine work and motherhood. Ruth discovers that the bodies date from the Second World War.
This means a police investigation is needed, which means that Ruth will come face-to-face with Detective Inspector Harry Nelson, something she has been trying hard to avoid. Ruth and Nelson start to uncover the secrets of the war years at Broughton Sea’s End and it soon becomes clear is that someone is still alive who will kill to protect those secrets.
Trapped at Sea’s End House is a snow storm, Ruth and Nelson realise that the danger is very close indeed. Their only hope lies in Nelson’s colleague Judy and a local druid named Cathbad....
Speaking of family, Elly Griffiths' husband gave up a successful career in finance to become an archeologist. It was during a story that he told her that the inspiration for this novel came to her as she discusses in this short video clip:
I haven't gotten to this one yet, but it is on my short list of books to be read (yes, I now have a short list as well as a long list of books to be read). Judging by her past works, I would freely recommend this one as well. Even unread.It’s Halloween and Ruth is attending a bizarre ceremony at a local museum – the opening of a coffin containing the bones of a medieval bishop. When Ruth arrives early she finds the museum’s curator lying dead beside the coffin. Nelson is called in to investigate; a difficult encounter as it’s the first time Ruth has seen Nelson since his wife learnt the truth about Kate’s parentage. Nelson discovers that the museum houses a collection of Aborigine bones and that the curator had been receiving threatening letters demanding the return of the relics. When the museum’s owner, aristocratic racehorse trainer Lord Danforth Smith, is found dead, events take an even more sinister and surreal turn...
Engaging series, sort of cozy with lots of suspense and little to no graphic violence.
Readers & Book Lovers Series Schedule
|DAY||TIME (EST/EDT)||Series Name||Editor(s)|
|SUN||6:00 PM||Young Reader's Pavilion||The Book Bear|
|Sun||9:30 PM||SciFi/Fantasy Book Club||quarkstomper|
|Bi-Monthly Sun||Midnight||Reading Ramblings||don mikulecky|
|MON||8:00 PM||Monday Murder Mystery||Susan from 29|
|Mon||11:00 PM||My Favorite Books/Authors||edrie, MichiganChet|
|alternate Tuesdays||8:00 AM||LGBT Literature||Texdude50, Dave in Northridge|
|Tue||10:00 PM||Contemporary Fiction Views||bookgirl|
|Wed||8:00 PM||Bookflurries Bookchat||cfk|
|THU||8:00 PM||Write On!||SensibleShoes|
|alternate Thu||11:00 PM||Audiobooks Club||SoCaliana|
|FRI||8:00 AM||Books That Changed My Life||Diana in NoVa|
|SAT (fourth each month)||11:00 AM||Windy City Bookworm||Chitown Kev|
|Sat||9:00 PM||Books So Bad They're Good||Ellid|