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Friday 2 February 2018

‘The Dark Angel’ by Elly Griffiths

Published by Quercus,
8 February 2018.
ISBN: 978-1-78429-663-6  (HB)

Like everyone I know who has read them, I'm a huge fan of Elly Griffiths's Ruth Galloway books, and one of the many things about them which I've come to admire most of all is the wonderfully visual sense of place. It isn't just the bleakly beautiful Norfolk landscape, though her almost tactile descriptions of it do leave it lingering in the memory; Griffiths has taken Ruth to bustling Blackpool, slightly claustrophobic Walsingham and a variety of other locations as well.

In The Dark Angel, Ruth and her little girl Kate leave the UK for the first time. Their destination is a crumbling hilltop village in Italy, and their resting place is an elegant apartment quite unsuited to the havoc two small children can wreak. Ruth and her glamorous friend Shona take off with both their kids for a couple of weeks at the invitation of Ruth's former lover Angelo, a fellow archaeologist, with a little light research thrown in as an incentive. And then of course there's a murder...

It's a book littered with small pleasures. Nelson, the Norfolk DCI who is Kate's father, finds himself bristling at the prospect of them being out of the country, even though his wife Michelle is unexpectedly pregnant and not at all well. Michelle has her own quandary to ponder, not unconnected with the return of DS Tim, her former lover.

And then there's DS Judy, left in charge back in Norfolk when Nelson can't bear it any longer and hightails it off to Italy with Ruth's druidic friend Cathbad in tow. Judy finds herself not only coping with a tricky policing situation but also having to deal with the new boss, a shrewd, modern woman with her own firm ideas about how to run an investigation.

All this, a large and beautifully drawn supporting cast and one of Elly Griffiths's wonderfully tangled plots combine to make this a real treat of a novel. There's even an earthquake, which naturally complicates things still further.

And the dénouement... I'm tempted to call it a classic, but that might imply that I saw it coming long before the end. I didn't; the murderer's identity took me completely by surprise – though of course all the clues were there, well buried, so that two and two failed to make four until it was pointed out.

Every time a new Ruth Galloway novel comes out, I tell myself it couldn't possibly be better than the last one. But they invariably are. The Dark Angel is far and away the best so far. 
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 eight further novels featuring forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway. Recently she has written a second series set in the 1950’s featuring magician Max Mephisto and DI Stevens. There are two books in the new series. Click on the title to read a review of Elly’s latest Max Mephisto Book book.The Vanishing Box

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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