RogerBW's Blog

The Deepest Grave, Harry Bingham 21 August 2020

2015 police procedural mystery, sixth in the Fiona Griffiths series. An archaeologist is found in her home, beheaded and transfixed with Iron Age spears.

Of course the police immediately assume that it's a local nutter. And of course the plot is far more complex than that; one of the things I like about this series is that it never falls back on the lazy crime writer's trope of "a loony did it for their own mad reasons", but there's always a plan behind it.

This time, it's not a plan which makes an awful lot of sense in terms of the real world (and there are some specific problems where reality outruns Bingham's knowledge of it), but it is a plan that is pleasingly baroque and lends an air of strangeness to the otherwise aggressively mundane setting. It lifts what could have been a kitchen-sink drama of mundane police work into something rather more fun. As a reader of SF I'm happy to grant the one implausibility in order to enjoy the story.

"Bleddyn, mate, you've no bloody idea what she wants. None at all. Neither have I. But if you want a word of advice from an officer who's had to work with this one in the past, then just give her her head. A little freedom of action. Only a little, mind, because before you know it she'll be running off God knows where doing God knows what. But if she wants to look at Iron Age killings or, I don't know, old hill forts or whatever, then let her do it."

There's the requisite boss who doesn't get it, and rather more vigilantism than we've seen from Fi before, but both of these fit into the story better than they might have; meanwhile, if you recognise a particular word then a specific reveal will be far less surprising than Bingham means it to be, but I don't suppose most people will.

For me, a bit of a step up from book five. Series recommended by Gus. Another book is apparently expected (but it has been for some time).

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