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Wednesday 6 May 2015

‘The Ghost Fields’ by Elly Griffiths

Published by Quercus,
26 March 2015
ISBN: 978-1-84866-330-5 (HB)

A new Ruth Galloway novel from Elly Griffiths is always a treat akin to meeting up with old friends, and The Ghost Fields certainly doesn’t disappoint.

As always, the bleakly beautiful Norfolk landscape and the unpredictable weather play a large part, as do the tensions and uneasiness’s of the relationship between academic and forensic archaeologist Ruth and DCI Harry Nelson, the father of her small daughter Kate.

This time Griffiths brings in Norfolk’s relatively recent history: the ghost fields of the title. They are the airfields of the Second World War, now largely deserted, or in this case recycled into a pig farm.

The familiar characters are firmly in place, and developing like real people. At the university there’s Ruth’s attention-seeking boss Phil and his glamorous girlfriend Shona; at the police station are down-to-earth Cloughie, cerebral Tim and perceptive Judy, now heavily pregnant; elsewhere are Cathbad the druid, Frank the TV presenter and Ruth’s potential love interest, and Michelle, Nelson’s wife, who this time has a little adventure of her own.

Elly Griffiths knows how to ring the changes from book to book, and this time the focus of the action is an old Norfolk family with plenty of recent history and backstory: the Blackstocks of Blackstock Hall. The Hall is a not-so-stately home, and the raggle-taggle family matches it. When bodies old and fresh start turning up, Ruth finds herself thrown into their company rather more than she likes, especially when a TV company begin to take an interest.

The narrative is as engaging and absorbing as ever, with plenty going on among the regular characters as well as the slow unfolding of the central mystery. There’s even a sly dig at politicians and developers who insist on building houses on flood plains despite the obvious risks.

Griffiths’s blend of grimness, lyricism and humour makes for a seamless read you won’t want to put down, and overweight, forty-something Ruth Galloway has to be one of the most human protagonists in any mystery series, past or present.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick

Elly Griffiths is the author of a series of crime novels set in England’s Norfolk county and featuring forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway. The first in the series, Crossing Places, earned a good deal of praise both in Griffiths’ native country, England, and in the U.S. The Literary Review termed it “a cleverly plotted and extremely interesting first novel, highly recommended.  Since then Elly has written six further novels featuring forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway, The Janus Stone, The House at Seas End, A Room Full of Bones, Dying Fall,  The Outcast Dead is her latest book The Ghost Fields

Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen, and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher for a few years, and is proud to have launched several careers which are now burgeoning. She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with books, about half of them crime fiction.

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