Solid crime novel well worth a read

2010-05-19 00:00

I HAVEN’T come across Elly Griffiths before, and am not a fan of forensic detection, finding Patricia Cornwell’s sour, bone-boiling heroine and her ilk a major turn-off.

But Griffiths’ forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway is anything but sour. She’s large, shambolic, open-minded, fun ... and pregnant. This seems to be the result of an encounter with Detective Inspector Harry Nelson­ in Griffiths’ previous book. However, what really drew me to the book was the setting — North Norfolk — which is a part of England I know very well.

Ruth is called in to investigate when the headless body of a young child is found during demolition work on an old house in Norwich. Once the house was a Catholic children’s home, but it is on the site of a much older graveyard and has also been a private house. The case takes Ruth back into contact with Nelson. At the same time nearby, a team of archaeologists are excavating a Roman site, and the man in charge seems charming and interested in Ruth.

However, as the investigation goes on, nasty things keep happening to Ruth. At first, they seem more in the nature of warnings than threats, but they become more and more unpleasant. Not the prescribed treatment for a soon to be single mother.

It all makes for an enjoyable thriller with plenty of red herrings and mysterious clues. It’s not just the setting that will draw me back to Elly Griffiths, although that is evocatively drawn. She knows how to produce a good solid crime novel.

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