Title: The Ghost Fields
Author: Elly Griffiths
Release Date: May 19, 2015
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Genre: Crime Fiction
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?
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: