I’m only going to write a shortish review this week, because my head is reeling from a bit of a rollercoaster time and honestly I can’t get my words out! But here’s a book I’ve enjoyed recently. Bonus: It’s the first in a series so you can read it without worrying about that!
Author: Elly Griffiths
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Quercus (6 Aug. 2009)
A child’s bones are discovered near the site of a pre-historic henge on the north Norfolk coast, and the police ask local forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway to date them. Are these the remains of a local girl who disappeared ten years ago?
DCI Harry Nelson refuses to give up the hunt for this missing child. Ever since she vanished, someone has been sending him bizarre anonymous notes about ritual sacrifice, quoting Shakespeare and the Bible. He knows Ruth’s instincts and experience can help him finally put this case to rest.
Then a second child goes missing, and Ruth finds herself in danger from a killer who knows she’s getting ever closer to the truth…
Although I had my reservations about Ruth as a character when I started reading the novel, one thing that won me over with this book was setting. And, actually, the atmosphere that just seeps out of it. And, to be fair, the plot. So, actually, pretty much everything else. I don’t always love present tense, but the manner in which Elly Griffiths writes is such that her setting – the desolate Norfolk coast, haunting and haunted – truly comes alive.
Things I liked:
I love books where setting plays a key role, and it’s something I do often try to achieve with my own writing. Griffiths has created an atmosphere that is at once spooky and captivating. I want to go there exactly as much as I want to avoid getting stuck on those mud flats at high tide, which leaves me with an interesting attitude towards the book as a whole. I devoured it. And it makes me want to go back to Norfolk.
2. The plot.
I have a thing where I’m reading a lot of books about missing children right now (also fuelled by my own writing), and that’s partially why I read Griffiths’ novel. I think that if you get the balance right, having a missing child can be such a haunting plot device. One that keeps you thinking about the novel long after it’s over. Needless to say, Elly Griffiths did her job, and I’m still freaked out by the ending.
Things I didn’t like (at first)
That’s horrible. I didn’t dislike her, I just wasn’t sure that I could stick with her for a whole book. But my love for the setting and the deftness of the unravelling plot made it much easier for me to forget any caution I had about Ruth and, you know what, I think I’ve grown to – well, if not LIKE her, then I respect her.
And I’ll be reading the next Ruth Galloway book. So I think Griffiths has done her job. And you should give this a read and then tell me how I can give my novel as much atmosphere as this one.