Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Review: A Room Full of Bones by Elly Griffiths

Elly Griffiths is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors.  This is #4 in the Ruth Galloway series, and #5 has just come out, so I'm trying to keep up.

In this adventure, Ruth, a forensic archaeologist, is asked to assist with identification and verification of the remains in a coffin that is being moved to a museum.  When the museum director turns up dead (murdered?) an hour before the ceremony is to take place, the plot obviously becomes more involved.

These are great forensic mysteries.  There is a stunning sense of place - the eastern shire of Norfolk England on the North Sea, and Ruth's little house on the salt marshes.  The reader can smell the sea air, and hear the tide, the winds, and the birds whenever Ruth returns home.  There is the ongoing story of Ruth, her daughter Kate (now a year old), and Kate's father, Detective Chief Inspector Harry Nelson (married to Michele), Kate's godfather and Ruth's friend Cathbad who channels Celtic Druids.

New characters abound here also, particularly family members of the museum director and owner Lord Danforth Smith.  There is a huge country estate, and race horses to add to the puzzle.  The identification of the remains (or is it an ancient mis-identification?) also lends to the mystery. Central to the story is a room at the museum full of bones that Lord Smith's grandfather brought back (stole??) from excavating in Aboriginal Australia. The natives want the bones repatriated so they can live with the ancestors.

The plot has several twists and surprises, making it difficult to explain in a review without spoiling your fun.  These are easy reads, but not simplistic.  I learn something new about archaeology every time I read one. She certainly has done her research and presents a clear picture of the issues surrounding skeletal remains being removed to museums. I also love the emotional tension Griffiths is developing between Harry and Ruth as the series progresses.  These are both healthy, normal, moral people trying to navigate their feelings, trying to raise their daughter, and get on with their respective lives.  Each book in the series advances these stories and I can't wait to get my hands on the next one.

Title: A Room Full of Bones
Author:Elly Griffiths
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 352 pages, ebook format
Genre: Mystery, forensic detective
Subject: Forensic archaeology
Setting: Norfolk England
Series: Ruth Galloway
Source: library download
Why did I read this book now? I love the series and wanted to stay caught up.


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