Elly Griffiths: The Woman in Blue, Ruth Galloway Mystery #8 Tuesday, May 3 2016 

Elly Griffiths’ wonderful Ruth Galloway Mysteries are one of Auntie M’s secret delights. Each new book is like a treat, waiting to be devoured.

In book #8 in the series, THE WOMAN IN BLUE, Griffiths takes Ruth to Little Walsingham, a medieval town with a huge religious history. Her friend, the druid Cathbad, is housesitting near the cemetery of one of the town’s churches, St. Simeon’s, when he sees a woman standing near one of the tombstones. Dressed in white with a flowing blue cloak, is the woman real, or an apparition of the Virgin Mary that many pilgrims come to the town to worship?

When the same woman is found dead in a ditch the next day, it’s clear she was very human. There will soon be religious overtones to the investigation, and DCI Nelson and his team on the case. Ruth finds herself involved through the back door this time. An old friend coming to the area soon on a course asks Ruth to help her as she’s been receiving threatening letters. The fact that this old friend is now an Anglican priest is not the only thing Ruth must get used to. There is a change in Nelson and they’re both afraid of it.

Then a second woman is murdered, and Ruth and Nelson race to find a murderer before he or she can strike again. With Easter season in full bloom, pageants and services abound, and the local churches of all denominations come under scrutiny. Old faces we’ve seen before appear, and threads from past stories come full circle–or do they?

One of Griffith’s gifts is making Ruth, Nelson and their circle face the same things we each face in our daily lives in a most realistic way. There aren’t always neat solutions to life’s questions. Police and forensic archaeologists, no matter how devoted or how good at their jobs, have the same insecurities and the same longings as anyone else. Griffiths’ consistently captures our attention with a delicious mystery while echoing the realities many readers face.

Couple all of this with a murderer on the loose and a Good Friday Passion Play in progress and you have all the ingredients for a mystery rich with drama and intrigue as very modern dilemmas play out on several levels. Highly recommended~

A note to readers: Three of Auntie M’s other highly recommended mysteries from last year are out in paperback. If you missed any of these in hardcover, now’s your chance for great adventures reading from three authors skilled at weaving setting and character with compelling mysteries:

LONDON RAIN, Nicola Upson’s sixth Josephine Tey mystery takes readers to 1937 London, still reeling from the abdication of Edward VIII and bustling in readiness for the coronation of his brother. This behind-the-scenes look at a murder at the BBC involves scandals old and new, all set against the backdrop of a national moment in history.

AFTER THE FIRE brings Jane Casey’s London detective Maeve Kerrigan into the cement high-rise estates where a fire has left three dead–and one of them is a wealthy and outspoken politician. What was he doing on this motley estate, and how does his death tie in to the other two victims?

A SONG FOR DROWNED SOULS by Bernard Minier bring his Commandant Martin Servaz of the Toulouse crime squad face to face with his own past, when the son of a former lover is the chief suspect in the murder of a teacher at the same university his own daughter is attending.

Elly Griffiths: The Ghost Fields, Ruth Galloway #7 Wednesday, Jul 22 2015 

Ghost Fields

Elly Griffiths’ Ruth Galloway is one of Auntie M’s favorite characters. Griffiths has created an original, smart woman who is very recognizable to readers as very, very human. In this seventh outing, THE GHOST FIELDS, Ruth is enjoying a summer dig with her archeology students when DCI Nelson asks her to view a crime scene. Seconded to North Norfolk’s Serious Crimes Unit as a forensic archeologist has had a profound effect on Ruth’s personal life in more ways than one.

Nelson explains that a builder, Edward Spens, had equipment digging for a new development in the fields and has found a plane, probably WWII, buried in a field–with a pilot is still inside. The plane is American, probably from the nearby Lockwell Heath airbase, but Ruth feels the dirt around the plane has been more recently disturbed and that the dead man has been posed in the cockpit.

Then Ruth announces that this was not an incident of a downed plane during the war: the pilot sports a bullet hole through the middle of his forehead.

The pilot and the land tie in to the Blackstock family, a disparate group with several generations living in the nearby manor house, others emigrated to the US, and a grandson running a pig farm, which comes into play in a particularly grisly manner.

Complicating Ruth and Nelson’s investigation is the appearance of American documentarian Frank Barker, the academic who Ruth met when filming the program Women Who Kill. Despite an attraction at the time, it’s been over a year since Ruth has heard from Frank, yet here he comes across the pond to head up an American film company and star in a documentary about Norfolk’s deserted airfields, those Ghost Fields as they’re known, and to muddle up Ruth’s investigation and her life.

It will take all of Ruth and Nelson’s smarts and his team’s efforts to unravel the complicated situation that is at the bottom of this mess once it becomes apparent there’s a murderer still on the loose in the Ghost Fields.

Griffiths adds to our interest with a nice interweaving of the lives of repeat characters besides those of Ruth and Nelson. They enhance rather than detract from the business at hand, a meeting of old friends as it were, and add a texture to the very human dramas that play out against the investigation. These atmospheric novels are strong, wonderful reads for any mystery lover. Highly recommended.

Elly Griffiths: A Dying Fall review and brief interview Sunday, Nov 3 2013 

EllyGriffithAuntie M had the pleasure of meeting and talking with Elly Griffiths at Bouchercon, Albany.

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 . . .

AM: And readers will be waiting to see what you and Ruth have decided!                                            15814458

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.