Title: The Ghost Fields by Elly Griffiths. 4stars****Publisher: Houghton Mifflin. 385pp.
Genre: mystery, English mystery, murder mystery, historical, mystery, series
Elly Griffiths is a British novelist of the Ruth Galloway English crime series. The Galloway books need to be read in order for character development and overarching story. Her first book was The Crossing Places, with The Ghost Fields being the seventh. This book takes place two years after the last (The Outcast Dead), but there is not a lot of personal development. These novels were inspired by her husband who became an anthropologist and her summer holidays in Norfolk; they now live in Brighton. She read English at King’s College and worked in publishing. Her writing is often poignant, atmospheric and compelling. Griffiths recently wrote a stand alone new 1950s crime novel The Zig Zag Girl that I also recommend.
The title comes from the deserted Air Force bases from WWII, as well as ancient burial sites from the Bronze Age (Galloway’s specialty) to the English Civil War. There were 37 airfields In Norfolk alone, with several shadow fields too. This particular ghost field is near the isolated Blackstone Manor where a WWII airplane, with body onboard, is discovered during an excavation. However, the pilot has a bullethole in his forehead and DNA that matches the local aristocracy. This is a cold case investigation with complications and present danger, of course building to an action packed ending with Ruth being in immediate danger in the terrible St Jude storm. There wasn’t much mystery for me as simple arithmetic would have narrowed the suspects. I think they should have provided the genealogy at the end of the book, not at the beginning.
Dr Galloway is forensic anthropologist and professor which lives in a Norfolk salt marsh.
Ruth is accomplished, intelligent, a dedicated professional and a single mother. But she is still insecure and less self aware/too critical. She’s 45 with a five year old daughter just starting school. I usually enjoy catching up with these characters, but Ruth has not moved on from DI Nelson, although he remains married. I no longer care about their relationship. And then there seem to be numerous affairs. As always Cathbad has his moments, now a family man living with Judy and their son and new daughter. The Blackstock’s are a positively quirky, eccentric English manor family (I liked that one branch of the Blackstock family had emigrated to Vermont, and should have stayed!)
The bleak, lovely Norfolk landscape still plays a central role in these novels and l love the wildness, beauty, history and nature. The British weather (unrelenting heat to wind, rain and flood) is so much more enjoyable from my sunny summer lounge chair. It’s an easy summer read. Enjoy!
Read On: (mysteries in Norfolk)
Elly Griffiths The Crossing Places in order
Simon Beckett Dr David Hunter, forensic scientist in The Chemistry of Death
PD James Devices and Desires Adam Dagliesh series
American mysteries: Kathy Reichs Tempe Brennan series, an forensic anthropologist
Opening line: It is the hottest summer for years. A proper heatwave, the papers say.
She thinks of sea sprites …and the ghosts of dead children singing under the sea.
Mrs Galloway was her mother. A formidable born-again Christian living in South London, within sight of the promised land.
The women in that family are worth ten of the men.
I’m sorry Frank, but there’s someone else. I think there always will be.
Read as an ARC from Netgalley
Purchased as an ebook for a reread. First edition in the Stowe Free Library summer book sale!