"...He’s a funny bloke, a bit prone to black moods."
He’s a druid, Ruth wanted to say, of course he’s odd. He wears white robes and leaves gifts out for a witch who died four hundred years ago. But she didn’t say any of this because, despite being a druid, Cathbad had unblocked the sink that morning. [location 1707]
Fifth in the Ruth Galloway series, this is something of a return to form after the somewhat disappointing A Room Full of Bones. Ruth, with her daughter Kate and her Druid friend Cathbad, are on a working holiday in Blackpool (of all places), where an old friend of Ruth's has just died in what turn out to be suspicious circumstances. Detective Inspector Harry Nelson and his wife Michelle are also visiting Blackpool. Coincidence? I think not.
Dan, Ruth's deceased friend, had made a discovery that would make headline news and could solve the university's funding problems. However, it might also upset a few people, not least local neo-Nazi group the White Hand. It's all tied in with the folklore of the Raven King, and the discovery of a Roman grave ...
As usual, a couple of minor niggles: in Blackpool, Ruth's toes would be cooled (and irradiated) by the Irish Sea, not the North Sea; and any archaeologist who can't 'work out' a translation of 'Britannorum Rex' should probably be sent for remedial training. But the archaeological mystery -- and the wealth of context, detail and discussion that surrounds it -- is intriguing and carefully paced. Harry Nelson's glowering observations on the changing demographic of Blackpool are an excellent foil to Ruth and Kate's enjoyment of the Pleasure Beach; Cathbad is as intriguing as ever, and has an active role in the story. A good read.