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

Saturday, May 09, 2015

2015/06: The Ghost Fields -- Elly Griffiths

"If there's something buried there, it'll come to the surface one day," says Ruth. "That's one thing I've learnt in my job. Nothing stays buried for ever." [loc.6107]

The Blackstock family has lived in rural Norfolk since time immemorial -- Ruth Galloway's done some DNA testing on Bronze Age remains, and the living Blackstocks share the genes of those who inhabited the area more than two millennia ago. In recent decades the family has become somewhat diminished: Lewis was a POW, 'never the same again', and vanished around 1950; Frederick emigrated to America and died during the Second World War; the surviving brother, George, inherited Blackstock Hall. An American TV crew wants to make a programme about Norfolk's myriad WW2 airfields -- the eponymous 'ghost fields' -- and would like to film at George's son's pig farm. But their plans are thrown into disarray by the fact that there are human bones where human bones shouldn't be ...

Enter forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway.

It's the mark of a good series that one can read each novel as a standalone: I realised only after finishing this that I'd missed the previous novel in the series! But there's a whole other layer separate from the murder mystery: the evolving relationships between Ruth and her friends and loved ones. Cathbad the Druid and some of his friends make an appearance here, as does taciturn DC Nelson and his immaculate, civilised wife Michelle -- and of course Ruth's daughter Kate, just starting school. (They grow up so fast.)

Griffiths describes the sun-baked Norfolk countryside in terms that resonate with me, and I'm fascinated by the archaeological aspects of the story. The crime elements were sufficiently twisty to hold my attention too -- and there were some interesting developments on the interpersonal front. A good, well-paced read.

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