The author of the Ruth Galloway series and winner of the Mary Higgins Clark award has a lively sense of humor and a warm personality.
She talked about the origins of her series, featuring the down-to-earth forensic archeologist whose independence and intelligence make her a delightful character readers are eager to follow.
Auntie M: Tell readers how you came up with the idea for the series.
Elly Griffiths: My husband was a lawyer who came to me one day and said he wanted to go back to school to be an archaeologist. I became interested in his studies and his work, and the idea was born.
AM: And Ruth?
EG: With my husband in school, we took a family vacation back to the Norfolk coast where I’d spent summers in my youth. I was thinking about a series as we walked along the beach by the marsh on a foggy day. Out of the mist, Ruth literally came walking to me, fully realized. I saw what she looked like, what she wore, down to knowing what kind of cracker she would eat!
AM: Ruth is such a realistic, well-rounded person–smart, stubborn, still anxious about her role as a mother. You’ve handled Ruth’s relationship with Harry Nelson, the father of her child, with a great aching tenderness.
EG: They find themselves in an unusual situation. Harry is Catholic, so there’s that to consider, and he loves his wife. Can you love two people at the same time? I’m still working that one out . . .
A Dying Fall is book five in the Ruth Galloway series.
Ruth is surprising herself by juggling motherhood of an 18-month old with the demands of her teaching and the annual university dig.
A call from a former classmate with news that one of their circle from university days has died in a fire brings Ruth memories of their time together: shared secrets, drinking bouts, sharing a flat.
Her memories take on a golden light and she rues she hasn’t stayed in touch Dan Golding. “Now she will never hear from him again.”
But the very next day after years of silence, Ruth receives a letter from Dan that changes everything. When Ruth asks Harry to look into Dan’s death, he asks an old colleague’s help–only to find the professor’s death was anything but an accident: the man’s door had been locked from the inside.
Then Ruth receives a call from Pendle University in Lancashire to consult on an important finding of Dan’s just before his death. She packs up toddler Kate and heads north with her friend, the Druid Cathbad, to Lytham, far too near where DCI Harry Nelson and his family are taking vacation with Harry’s family in Blackheath. Cathbad’s presence will lend its own surprising connection.
Dan was on the verge of a major announcement based on his discovery, which intrigues Ruth in her professional capacity as much as she longs to unearth the truth about the link between Dan’s theories and his murder.
What follows is a brew of old bones, neo-Nazis and New Age hippies mixed with trips to Blackpool Pleasure Beach and the archaeology of early Britain. The plot has enough twists and turns to keep the mystery alive, while Harry’s extended family are on the scene and their interactions add to the texture, at Harry’s obvious discomfort.
Griffiths weaves the archaeology into a compelling plot while she manages to update the characters’ private lives and move those forward. It makes for an intriguing crime story that will have readers looking forward to the next mystery featuring Ruth Galloway.