Ghostly Summer Read!

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. 

Story Line:

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!

Book Review – Gone Girl

Gone Girl
A Review by Catherine H. Armstrong

After 64 weeks on Amazon’s list of Top 100 books, I finally got my hands on a digital copy of Gone Girl through SELCO.  I finished it just this morning and I can sum this novel up in three words:  OH!  MY!  GOSH!

Okay, so maybe three words aren’t enough.  I think I’d have to add:  WOW!  YOWZA!  YIKES!

Like most people, I love a really good suspense novel.  Unfortunately, so many these days have become too formulaic and predictable.  This is absolutely not the case with Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

Flynn’s newest suspense novel takes the reader to the small midwestern town of North Carthage, MO.  Nick and Amy Dunne are transplants from New York, returned to Nick’s hometown to care for his terminally ill mother and Alzheimer’s afflicted father.  It’s not an ideal situation, but they’ve committed to making the best of a bad situation.

On the morning of their 5th wedding anniversary, Amy disappears.  All that’s left behind are signs of a struggle and clues that lead the police straight to Nick as the primary suspect in her presumed murder.  Through the horrific investigation, the evidence against Nick just continues to pile against him:  an extramarital affair; a secret credit card account, maxed out on deviant and violent porn DVDs; and even Nick’s own daydreams of smashing in his wife’s head.  But did he do it?

Gone Girl is nothing short of a surprising and twisted psychological thriller.  Just when you think you have everything figured out, another curve ball is thrown and a new avenue of twists and turns opens for the reader.  The end result is jaw-dropping disbelief.

This book is available at the Rochester Public Library in traditional and audio CD format.  It is also available through SELCO in downloadable e-book format.  For more information about this book, visit the author’s website by following this link.