It’s the fourth Monday and it’s feature Monday, spotlighting an author I admire. This week, it’s Elly Griffiths, author of the Ruth Galloway novels. I call them a cross between cozies and literally, bone-chilling, as Ruth is a forensic archaeologist, an “identifier of human remains”. This series is not the first for Ms. Griffiths; she wrote her first series, three books about Italy and family, under her real name, Domenica de Rosa. On her blog, Ms. Griffiths says that the first book in the Ruth Galloway series, The Crossing Places, arrived fully formed on her first visit to Titchwell Marsh in Norfolk. Wow. What a story. What an imagination. When she went to pitch it, her agent told her she needed a “crime name”. Elly Griffiths was born.
Ruth is a complex character. She’s a professor with a side gig as a police consultant. She’s a lover of the wide open expanse of the marsh, a place that’s neither “land or sea”. She’s a loner who falls in love with someone unavailable and, at the outset, seemingly unsuited. After twelve books, I’m still not quite sure where that relationship is heading. Ruth has a child who we see grow up. Ruth ages. She solves crimes and puts herself in danger doing so. She’s self-deprecating and has a great sense of humour.
Perhaps what I like most about this series is the sense of place. Ms. Griffiths write about Norfolk with exquisite detail, from the tidal pulls to the bird life. She captures the sky, the fog, the sun, and the rain. It’s as much a part of the story as the plot. And the pre-historic people who inhabitated these marshy lands are woven into the fabric of each book.
Of course, each book has a mystery to solve that’s hidden in bones and sometimes in dead bodies. The mysteries point to the Iron Age and the Bronze Age, to Pendle Hill, to repatriation of Aboriginal artifacts, to Victorian body snatchers, missing children, unhinged production assistants, intergenerational tragedies, rehab, and ancient pilgrimages.
The covers are bewitching. Well-designed, cohesive, inviting. Here are the first three covers, to hopefully pique your interest:
I highly recommend this series. For those of us who love to armchair travel, this is the series to go with. You’ll love it. And it’s great to know that Ms. Griffiths has a second mystery series, The Stephens and Mephisto Novels, set in Brighton in the 1950’s. I haven’t tried these yet, but they are on my list.
Until next time,