I greatly fear that Nelson is right.

Griffiths sets the beginning of this book at the beginning of the Covid pandemic and totally sticks the landing. Archaeologist Ruth Galloway and daughter Kate are living their lives, socializing with friends, family, and neighbors, going out for coffee and to the cinema and shopping when the rumors of this century’s plague begin creeping in. The next thing they know Kate is resisting home schooling and Ruth is teaching via Zoom as her students keep disappearing from the screen. That scene where they have to go shopping and Ruth can’t decide between taking Kate with her or leaving her at home, and then when she decides to take Kate with her can’t decide between leaving Kate in the car or taking her into the store, and then can’t decide whether to lock Kate in the car or leave the car unlocked in case Kate needs to get out is emblematic of everything every parent in the world must have gone through in 2020.

And then Cathbad falls ill from the virus, and that, too, is so realistic I had to force myself to keep my eyes on the page. The scene with Judy and the kids and the nurse is excruciating.

And then there is the case du livre, with DCI Harry Nelson and his team investigating the suicides (or not) of too many women in the community. First of all, what better way of hiding domestic murders than during a lockdown from a pandemic, and second, what a great way of showing how police work moved from normal life to pandemic mode and still managed to crack the case. I might quibble over the villain (too little on scene, murky motive, and c’mon, would that many women really allow that to happen to themselves) but who cares? The villain is creepy enough at the end and I greatly fear that Nelson is right. (Yes, you’ll have to read it yourself to know what I mean there.)

And then there is the story arc that overshadows all fourteen of these novels, the relationship between Ruth and Nelson. Griffiths has done some great work here in creating an ensemble cast (being deliberately vague so no spoilers) that makes the [un]progress of their relationship believable and riveting. Even if I do get impatient with the both of them from time to time.

I love the descriptions of the Norfolk landscape and the descriptions of Ruth’s work (she is the archaeology teacher I never knew I wanted) and the way Ruth’s work illuminates history going back from World War II all the way to the Romans (I’d love to read Ruth’s book on the Raven King) and the Bronze and Iron Ages. I’m looking forward to the 15th (and the author says final) which publishes today. Given the last line of this one, I have high hopes. Griffiths is right; it is the only way to resolve that situation, one way or the other.*

*Mysterious enough for you? Hey, it’s what we do.

Book Review Monday Chatter

Dana View All →

Author and founder of Storyknife.org.

3 Comments Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: