Book Review: The Ghost Fields – Elly Griffiths

Title: The Ghost Fields
Author: Elly Griffiths
ISBN: 9780544330146
Pages: 384
Release Date: May 19, 2015
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Genre: Crime Fiction
Source: Publisher

Summary

When a World War II-era plane crash is discovered in Norfolk, it’s a curiosity to be sure. But when the pilot is found in the cockpit, shot through the head, it becomes a criminal investigation. The police call in Ruth Galloway, who discovers more than one strange piece of information about this decades-old corpse. Who was this man, why was he murdered, and how did his plane end up in the middle of a field, if he was shot in the head?

Review

 There are a few series I can’t get enough of, and Elly Griffiths’ Ruth Galloway mysteries are among those few. Too often, series get boring as they progress. It’s another dead body (too often, a pretty young woman who’s been the victim of horrific violence), another case that’s really indistinguishable from what came in previous books. I keep reading them because I enjoy the escape that mysteries bring, but there are few series where each book sets itself apart, and each installment gets better and better. This series, however, does just that.

I love the blend of history and crime that Elly Griffiths brings to each of the Ruth Galloway novels, and that’s absolutely present in The Ghost Fields. Ruth is working on a Bronze Age dig when the novel begins; she’s called in to consult on a World War II-era body. These books jump back and forth through Britain’s past, bringing different areas of history to light. It’s fascinating and informative, and I love how Griffiths jumps between macro histories—periods of time—and micro, to focus on how a period in history affected one person or family. It’s so well done.

But these books aren’t just about history. In The Ghost Fields, Griffiths continues developing the characters that readers have come to know and love over the past years. It’s an eccentric cast of characters, to be sure, but one that the reader feels is family. One of the themes of this novel is personality flaws, and specifically how women are forced to be so much stronger than the men surrounding them. While it’s explicitly said in regard to the family involved in the murder investigation, the reader sees how Ruth is surrounded by imperfect, flawed men, and is forced to rise above them for herself and her daughter. These characters are not perfect, but they are realistic.

I absolutely adore this series, and if you haven’t given it a chance, I hope you will. Even if mysteries and crime fiction aren’t your favorite genre, the history and strong characterization will draw you into these books. I can’t wait to read the next (and most recent) in the series, The Woman in Blue.

Other books by Elly Griffiths:

The Crossing Places
The Janus Stone
The House at Sea’s End
A Room Full of Bones
A Dying Fall
The Outcast Dead

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Book Review: The Outcast Dead – Elly Griffiths

The Outcast Dead coverTitle: The Outcast Dead
Author: Elly Griffiths
ISBN: 9780547792774
Pages: 384
Release Date: March 11, 2014
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Genre: Crime Fiction
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Summary:

Forensic archaeologst Ruth Galloway is on a dig at Norwich Castle when she discovers the Victorian-era remains of a woman with a hook for a hand. Ruth is certain that the body belongs to the famed Mother Hook, a woman who took in unwanted children and murdered them. But as a TV program takes interest in the skeleton, Ruth begins to dig into Mother Hook’s past, uncertain of whether she is actually guilty of the crimes she’s purported to have committed.

Snapshot Review:

A series that keeps things fresh with every installment, Elly Griffith’s latest Ruth Galloway mystery The Outcast Dead continues with impeccable character development and multiple mysteries that will keep readers intrigued.

Full Review:

Every time I review one of Elly Griffiths’ Ruth Galloway novels, I feel like I say the same thing: Every book in this series is remarkable because it is so different than the ones that come before and after. The Outcast Dead is no exception; Griffiths manages to set this novel apart from all the installments that come before it. This means that each book in this series is fresh and new; too often, series books start to feel formulaic, but Griffiths is one that never disappoints.

Ruth’s life has been shaken up in the past few novels, so it’s nice to see things settling down in The Outcast Dead. She’s adjusted to life as a single, working mom, and has found a way to be comfortable working alongside DCI Nelson, the father of her child, and has made peace with his wife. Ruth’s in a comfortable place when this novel begins. Of course, it doesn’t stay that way, with shakeups here and there (including the first appearance of Ruth’s semi-estranged brother and a potential new love interest), but it’s nice to see that Ruth’s in a good place, mentally. Being a mother has changed her, softened her, so it’s interesting to see how she takes the Mother Hook case a bit personally.

Though The Outcast Dead starts as a centuries-old mystery about Mother Hook’s guilt or innocence, the story becomes much more urgent with the kidnapping of a young child. Though Ruth isn’t directly involved with this case, she plays her own part in it. In many ways, this novel is about the secondary characters of the series, those surrounding Ruth, dealing with their respective issues. By this point, these characters feel like old friends; readers will love the care that Griffiths takes with each of them. It’s clear that she lovingly pens these characters, and that she wants them to find happiness and peace as much as the reader wants them to.

If you haven’t read any Elly Griffiths, you can start with The Outcast Dead if you so desire; though you’d be missing out on a lot of character development, you’ll enjoy the fast-paced story. Additionally Griffiths doesn’t rehash previous plotlines, so you’d be able to go back and enjoy previous novels. I really can’t recommend this series highly enough; Griffiths does such a great job with her stories and characters that any fan of crime fiction, history, or character-driven novels should absolutely be reading the Ruth Galloway series.

Other books by Elly Griffiths:

The Crossing Places
The Janus Stone
The House at Sea’s End
A Room Full of Bones
A Dying Fall

Affiliate Links:

Buy this book from Powell’s Books
Buy this book from Amazon.com
Buy this book from your local Indiebound bookstore

 

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