The Ghost Fields by Elly Griffiths
Last spring a publisher sent me a new book by Elly Griffiths, The Ghost Fields. I read it – and ordered all of the others in her Ruth Galloway mystery series and read them all on a recent visit to the left coast.
Ruth Galloway is an archaeologist working in the Norfolk, north east of London on the North Sea. This is a region of farmland and broads – home to The Swallows and Amazons, Arthur Ransome country. Ruth has a senior position at the local University and is often called in to help the police in their investigations. Her specialty is bones – dating bones to determine if any that have been found are ancient, or recent enough for the police to embark on a murder investigation.
Detective Chief Inspector Harry Nelson is the man in charge when a murder investigation is launched. He and Ruth must work closely together – sometimes too closely, as you will discover while reading this series. DCI Nelson is happily married with two teenage daughters, and Ruth is mostly not too unhappy without a permanent partner. She loves her home in the remote wilds along the North Sea shoreline.
The series begins with The Crossing Places and the disappearance of a young child. Something about the case forces DCI Nelson to think about an earlier case he was never able to solve, one that still haunts him. Is the earlier child who disappeared still alive, or is she dead? And what of the fate of the child, who has disappeared now, is there a connection or is Nelson wasting his time looking for a link? When bones are found near Ruth Galloway’s home is it possible they are of the child abducted so many years earlier? You’ll have to find out for yourself!
As with any good mystery series the characters develop with each book. In the Ruth Galloway series there is always something that involves the archaeological past and a current murder investigation. An interesting blend of history and the present time. We read about Ruth’s work at the University, her friends and family and DCI Nelson’s past and his current life as a policeman trying to balance family time and the demands of his position.
Another author who does much the same is Kate Ellis in her series featuring Detective Inspector Wesley Peterson – a series that takes place on another British coastline in Devon. Here it is Wesley’s friend, Neil, from university who is the practicing archeologist while Wesley himself has become a policeman. Kate Ellis writes a slightly “cosier” novel than Elly Griffiths but there is the same focus on the real history of a time, with an historical event connected to the present day murder investigation. All making for a very satisfying escapist reading experience.