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The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths (Ruth Galloway #9)

July 30, 2017

 

Boiled human bones have been found in Norwich’s web of underground tunnels. When forensic archaeologist Dr Ruth Galloway discovers the bones aren’t as old as originally thought, it’s time for DCI Nelson to launch a murder inquiry. What was initially just a medieval curiosity has taken a much more sinister nature…

Meanwhile, DS Judy Johnson is investigating the disappearance of a local rough sleeper. The only trace of her is the rumour that she’s gone ‘underground’. This might be a figure of speech, but with the discovery of the bones and the stories both Ruth and the police have heard of a vast community of rough sleepers living in the old chalk-mining tunnels under Norwich, the clues point in only one direction. Local academic Martin Kellerman knows all about the tunnels and their history – but can his assertions of cannibalism and ritual killing possibly be true?

As the weather gets hotter, tensions rise. A local woman goes missing and the police are under attack. Ruth and Nelson must unravel the dark secrets of The Underground and discover just what gruesome secrets lurk at its heart – before it claims another victim.

I was fortunate to be in Harrogate to see Elly Griffiths win the Dead Good Readers Award for Most Recommended Book and I quite understand why it won.

Elly Griffiths writes great characters – well rounded, imperfect, but primarily characters you do come to care about. The Doctor Ruth Galloway series is so good – relationships are really well explored, the prose is excellent and the books always very well plotted. I have come to love this series and my only gripe is that this is Book 9 and the next one may well be the last in the series.

Galloway is a forensic archaeologist based in Norwich and lecturing at the University. She has links with the Police and is often called out when, for example, as in this case, bones are found at a site.

DCI Harry Nelson, husband of Michelle, father to Ruth’s daughter Kate, is worrying that his new boss, a very different kind of policewoman who likes bar charts and is the very antithesis of ‘old school’ wants him out.  Superintendent Jo Archer has swept in with her new broom and is already getting on Harry’s nerves, not least after sending him on a driving course.

When Ruth examines the human bones found in one of a series of very old tunnels that an architect wants to turn into an underground restaurant, she thinks that the bones may not be as old as they seem… and may even have been boiled. Could there be cannibalism in the streets of Norfolk?

Meanwhile, DS Judy Johnson is investigating the disappearance of a local rough sleeper after Aftershave Eddie, well known to the police, reports that a friend of his, another rough sleeper called Barbara, has disappeared.

When Eddie’s body turns up dead on the steps of the police station, this is just the start of a series of disappearances that are going to hit the police more closely and more dramatically than they can imagine.

As Nelson and Galloway investigate, Griffiths does an excellent job of destigmatising homelessness and ensuring that each of the characters is seen as an individual with distinct issues and virtues, which I really appreciated.

The complex emotions involved in Nelson and Galloway’s tortured relationship come to the fore again in this book and I can’t wait to see what happens in the 10th in the series.

Beautifully written and nicely wrapped up, Elly Griffiths Ruth Galloway  remains one of my favourite series.

The Chalk Pit was published in paperback by Quercus on 13 July 2017

Winner of 2017 THE DEAD GOOD RECOMMENDS AWARD for Most Recommended Book and winner of the 2016 CWA DAGGER IN THE LIBRARY

Amazon                                           Waterstones

About Elly Griffiths

elly griffiths

Elly Griffiths is the pen name of Domenica de Rosa and she has written four books under her own name. She was born in London in 1963 though her family moved to Brighton when she was five. She wrote her first book when she was a 11, a murder mystery set in Rottingdean, near the village where she still lives.

Elly read English at King’s College London and, after graduating, worked in a library, for a magazine and then as a publicity assistant at HarperCollins. She became Editorial Director for child

ren’s books at HarperCollins.But it wasn’t until she was on maternity leave in 1998 that she wrote what would become her first published novel, The Italian Quarter.

Three other books followed, all about Italy, families and identity. By now Elly had two children and her husband Andy had just given up his city job to become an archaeologist. They were on holiday in Norfolk, walking across Titchwell Marsh, when Andy mentione

d that prehistoric man had thought that marshland was sacred. Because it’s neither land nor sea, but something in-between, they saw it as a kind of bridge to the afterlife. Neither land nor sea, neither life nor death.  Elly says “As he said these words the entire plot of The Crossing Places appeared, full formed, in my head and, walking towards me out of the mist, I saw Dr Ruth Galloway. I didn’t think that this new book was significantly different from my ‘Italy’ books but, when she read it, my agent said, ‘This is crime. You need a crime name.’

And that’s how I became Elly Griffiths.”

For more information visit her website

 

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