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Following the closure of Mystery Women, a new group was formed on 30th January 2012 promoting crime fiction.
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Published by Allison & Busby, 20 February 2020. ISBN: 978-0-174902490-1
In this, the second in this series
featuring archaeologists Clare Hills and Dr David Barbrook, both directors of the
Hart Archaeological Research Institute (the Hart Unit) has been saved from
having to close for lack of funding by an intervention from the unit’s
supporter Dame (Professor) Margaret Bockford who has found a project for the
unit for fieldwork on a site called Bailsgrove in the Cotswolds. The fieldwork
is to evaluate the site ahead of development for housing. Neither David nor
Clare are particularly keen to take up the project when they discover that the
site is Bailsgrove because the previous dig director had been Beth Kinsella,
notorious for her obsession with the Iron Age, had recently killed herself. But
Clare feels she has no choice because if the Hart Unit is forced to close
through lack of funding she will be out of a job and will not be able to buy
the house she has set her heart on. David who is a lecturer at the university
to which the Hart Unit is attached is financially in a better position but
nonetheless agrees to accompany Clare.
However, once on the dig, Clare is very much in her
element. Assisted by her friend, Californian human bone specialist Jo Granski,
she is trying to sort out the chaotic excavation records (such a vital part of
any dig) while assorted pagan devotees led by the eccentric Wayne Crabbs
(Crabby) carry out their ceremonies on the site. Meanwhile the property
developer Paul Marshall visits the site and forcibly expresses his anger at the
delays and expense caused to his plans for development. One of Beth’s
fellow-archaeologists, Neil Fuller, tells Clare that Beth had been convinced
the site contained an Iron Age shrine but his view was that there was no
evidence and Beth’s obsession with the Celts had led her astray.
Things grow ever more complicated with the emergence
of ‘nighthawk’ activity at Bailsgrove. (‘Nighthawks’ are illegal metal
detectorists who dig up prehistoric sites in the hope of finding valuable
objects which they can sell on the black market; their activities all too often
result in trashing the site). And then there is the discovery of three infant
burials and the resulting ghoulish reporting by the press. Followed by other
deaths, this time distinctly recent.
This is a fascinating tale with strong and
interesting characters, securely grounded in the author’s undoubted archaeological
knowledge. It is clear that there will be more to come.Very much recommended.
Reviewer: Radmila May
Nicola Fordis the pen-name for archaeologist Dr Nick Snashall, National Trust
Archaeologist for the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site. Through her day-job and now her writing, she’s spent
more time than most people thinking about the dead.
born in the U.S. but has lived in the U.K. since she was seven apart from seven
years in The Hague. She read law at university but did not go into practice.
Instead she worked for many years for a firm of law publishers and still does occasional
work for them including taking part in a substantial revision and updating of
her late husband’s legal practitioners’ work on Criminal Evidence published
late 2015. She has also contributed short stories with a distinctly criminal
flavour to two of the Oxford Stories anthologies published by Oxpens Press – a
third story is to be published shortly in another Oxford Stories anthology –
and is now concentrating on her own writing.