No two persons ever read the same book. --Edmund Wilson

Monday, September 03, 2012

2012/38: A Room Full of Bones -- Elly Griffiths

"...a group calling themselves the Elginists. They demanded the return of the skulls. Said they should go back to Australia and be buried in their ancestral ground ... said they needed to enter Dreamtime, or some such rubbish. I gave them short shrift. Those heads belonged to my great-grandfather. They’re very rare. One’s been turned into a water carrier." (loc. 803)

The fourth in the Ruth Galloway series, and for me, I'm afraid, the least satisfactory.

Ruth has a one-year-old daughter, whose father refuses to see either of them; a new next-door neighbour, Aboriginal poet Bob Woonunga; and some doubts concerning the sudden deaths of a museum curator and then the museum's owner, wealthy racehorse owner Lord Smith. What she doesn't have, in this novel, is any involvement in the crime-solving process. She doesn't even do archaeology, unless you count visiting a museum, which I don't.

There are some intriguing ideas in A Room Full of Bones. Much of the interest, though, comes from the developing relationships -- positive and negative -- between the characters. Nelson isn't well; DC Judy Johnson is apparently having pre-wedding nerves; Cathbad has a new lover; Lord Smith's widow has an unexpected alter ego. Yet it all feels ... generic, without the sparkle or the intellectual background of the previous three novels. Perhaps Ruth's passion for archaeology was her defining feature: as a single mum, she's clearly frustrated -- but also frustrating.

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