It is Halloween night, and the local museum in King's Lynn is preparing for an unusual event - the opening of a coffin containing the bones of a medieval bishop. But when Ruth Galloway arrives to supervise, she finds the museum's curator lying dead beside the coffin. It is only a matter of time before she and DI Nelson cross paths once more, as he is called in to investigate. Soon the museum's wealthy owner lies dead in his stables, too. These two deaths could be from natural causes - but Nelson isn't convinced.
©2012 Elly Griffiths (P)2012 AudioGO Ltd
Have listened to the whole series, and have enjoyed them all, even though the narraator changed. Good crime story, but nothing majorly original. I wouldn't say it's an over-accurate representation of forensic or police procedure, but enjoyable, and the characters are well rounded. Listen to them in order though if you want to get the best out of them.
"Elly Griffith Is Back in Better Form"
I was disappointed in the previous Ruth Galloway mystery (The House at Sea's End). Three stars disappointed. I actually said that I wasn't looking forward to forensic anthropology with a toddler. However, the author made a decision to have a significant event in the relationship between Ruth and her baby's father happen between books that actually seems to help the story arc in my opinion.
The story opens with the death of a director of a small local museum. He is found lying dead beside the coffin of a medieval bishop that had been excavated from a site that had once been a church and then an industrial site. The window is open, a single shoe lies on the floor and a guide book whose pages riffle in the breeze. Ruth Galloway, forensic anthropologist, finds the body. Murder or natural causes? A drug habit might argue one, but menacing letters in his desk drawer might argue the other.
The museum also houses some Australian aborigine bones that a group calling itself the Elginists (Lord Elgin's marbles but I'm not sure why they named themselves after the guy who took the marbles from the Parthenon) want repatriated. These bones were collected by the ancestor of the founder of the museum, Lord Smith. Lord Smith is also a racing stable owner, married with three adult children, one of whom helps with the stable, one who is a successful QC and one who is a wastrel.
Meanwhile Harry Nelson's team is also dealing with the importation of high quality drugs from over seas that apparently no one in the criminal community knows about.
The disentangling all of the threads kept me interested through the entire story. There was one thing that niggled at me after I finished the book but I can't tell it without spoilers so I just have to say that it might bother others also.
I gave this book 4 stars because it was a better than average entertainment even with the occasional fault.
P.S. Jane McDowell does her usual good job with the narration.
"Changing, evolving, genre...."
I loved Elly Griffith's first book so much that when the second came out, I bought it right away -- something I almost never do. I usually wait for a second-hand copy to become available. I enjoyed the second book, and the third, too, but not as much. This one? Not at all. The author has subtly changed genre, and this doesn't interest me anymore.
The earlier books focused on Ruth Galloway, an archaeologist and single mother, which was an interesting combination, and meant a mystery focused on ancient remains, their origins and what might have occurred. The series has now taken off in a different direction. Now the focus is equally on one of the other characters, Cathbad, a Druid, and now seems to center on his occult beliefs, rituals, super powers and abilities. We still get Ruth dealing with her young daughter, but the emphasis has definitely changed.
In reading other reader's comments, I understand that many love this new direction, the Druidical hocus-pokus, the spells and charms. I don't. I liked the more traditional detective tale involving ancient remains and what happened to them.
It's all a matter of taste -- this book with its phantasmagorical storyline just wasn't interesting to me. I won't bother with subsequent books.
Another lovely book by Elly Griffith: the story is good, not great, but the character development is very satisfying. Jane Powell's performance is excellent. If you are a fan of Ruth and Harry, then, you will enjoy this book.
"Weak central character limits this story"
Ruth, supposedly a forensic anthropologist, should be an interesting character study if Griffiths portrayal of her reflected any of the intelligence and independence a reader might expect. Other characters in the story speak of her with admiration but I find her a most uninformed scholar. She asks others to answer questions about British political or church history that I could have answered in high school. The story wanders endlessly around the thoughts of a group of personalities and taxes a reader's patience in trying to link them together into a coherent story line. The author constantly refers to earlier books in order to support the story line in this one. I have no motivation to go back and read the earlier novels. The author would be better served to do a little more research and develop a central character with some depth.
"Worth the money and the time....."
I love Ms. Griffith's writing style. She continually moves the listener through the story by maintaining a present tense narrative. She has also given us a gifted heroine who is not gorgeous or self-assured, but who has a fulfilling life in each stage she grows through. Ruth Galloway is quiet, reticent, caring and respectful of her friends and associates who, in turn, are quick to help her with her investigations and sometimes her personal life. I've enjoyed all 4 books in the series and am now required to wait for the 5th to be published.
Elly Griffiths' 4th book in the Ruth Galloway series does not disappoint. Her characters continue to be interesting and the mysteries less than straightforward. Although many of her characters are less than conventional people and hold beliefs not likely to be accepted by the mainstream, Griffiths always manages to keep them from going overboard into an extreme that might alienate some readers. She also leaves much open to interpretation instead of simply telling you this is what you must believe happened. It's a bit along the lines of Phil Rickman's Merrily Watkins, only as a archeologist Ruth Galloway is perhaps a bit more grounded in scientific belief. I'm making the comparison simply based on the fact that both authors are adept at leaving opinion up to the reader.
The plot of the novel is excellent with enough twists and turns to keep it interesting and leaving me feeling like the book was much too short and couldn't we have had more please. I'm amazed at how well Griffiths combines Ruth's life with the investigations without making her into a Scarpetta, or a protagonist who becomes the constant victim. She's there and she is definitely the focus, but the writing is much more subtle and you don't feel as if Ruth is being forced on you. I've loved the previous books in the series and this one was no different. Griffiths holds your interest from beginning to end without going overboard on the drama and I really like the way she even makes reality seem surprising. I don't want to have to wait for the next book to come out.
The only critique I have of this book is the quality of the recording. Jane McDowell did an excellent job at narration, as always, but the recording occasionally sounds quite tinny even though I downloaded the 4. Still, it's a great book and one I can recommend.
"Best So Far in the Series!"
Couldn't wait for this book to be published and was not disappointed. Loved the new romantic plot developments. Am usually fairly good at figuring out the culprit before the
end of the book but was taken by complete surprise in this one. Start with the first book in the series. You won't regret it.
No. I have not read Ms Griffiths previous books, nor could I finish this one. It is rare that I will put a book down before completion, but there was nothing - not the characters, nor story, nor narration, that held my interest. I selected this book because the prior reviews were positive and the Audible Summary was intriguing and similar to other favorite series of the mystery genre by Louise Penny and Jacqueline Winspear. Those series feature principled and cerebral protagonists tackling misdeeds and wicked acts in rural and picturesque settings populated with sympathetic and quirky characters. This novel disappointed on all counts.
I have already started Secret Daughter by Silpi Samaya Gowda. This is a totally different, but favorite genre - the complex, sweeping historical fiction set in distant and mysterious locales. I am hoping it lives up to other favorites including Kite Runner, Cutting for Stone and Shantaram.
No, I do have and follow favorite narrators: Orlaugh Cassidy, Anna Fields, Ralph Kosham, Joe Montegna, Scott Brick, Dick Hill and others.
Sadly, I connected with none of the characters.
"Tired of the character"
I am giving up on this series. I had high hopes with the first book, but for me, Ruth Galloway has become too much of a silly, weak, insecure character. One wonders how she managed to complete a terminal degree. I would have stopped after book 3 but had already bought #4. We spend entirely too much time in Ruth's head and she has really ridiculous imaginings and flights of fancy. Ridiculous moments of idiotic panic over nothing. A little is fine, but there is too much, almost like filler for filler's sake.
The reader (McDowell) does a fair job with general narration and most of the female voices. But in dialogue and if she has to use emphasis for any of the characters or be forceful/gruff for a male character, it just does not work. They sound hollow.
"Not really investigated by Ruth"
I started the series with this book. And I will give it a go with book one, but I was disappointed. It's called a Ruth Galloway investigation, but she barely investigates anything, and doesn't know what is going on outside her egocentric world most of the time. it's generally accepted that the title character in a mystery book is going to be in the middle of all the action, or fully immersed in finding out what happened, but you're not going to get that with this book. I am hoping that this is an abberation in the series.
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