RogerBW's Blog

The House at Sea's End, Elly Griffiths 17 February 2023

2011 mystery, third in the series (police plus amateur detection). When a team looking at coastal erosion turns up six bodies, Ruth Galloway, a forensic anthropologist just back from maternity leave, inevitably gets involved.

For me the thing that's distinctive so far about this series is that it's quite reasonably looking into old crimes – after all, that's where a forensic anthropologist has something to contribute. To keep up the sense of drama, those old crimes cast long shadows, at least in the minds of people who will kill to keep the details secret.

That said, and the book does deliver on that level, I found it hard work at times; a puzzle left by a dead man is solvable by quick inspection, not needing a couple of chapters' thinking time as seen here, and one sometimes feels that everyone else's stories (like those of Tatjana, whom Ruth met while working on mass graves in Bosnia, DS Johnson, about to get married to a childhood friend but not feeling the wave of certainty that she's supposed to, or Cathbad the freelance vaguely-pagan weirdo) are more interesting than those of Ruth and DCI Harry Nelson (the married father of her child, and they're still trying to work out their feelings about each other).

Still enjoyable for the most part, but it's starting to feel flabby to me. On the bright side, Griffiths' writing is enjoyable even when the content verges into dullness.

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Previous in series: The Janus Stone | Series: Ruth Galloway | Next in series: A Room Full of Bones

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