I had seen this one on special offer on Audible and as this is a series I’m currently enjoying – see my review of The Crossing Places, it seemed like a good idea to get hold of it. Would I enjoy listening to these characters as much I relish reading about them, though?
It is Halloween night, and the local museum in King’s Lynn is preparing for an unusual event – the opening of a coffin containing the bones of a medieval bishop. But when Ruth Galloway arrives to supervise, she finds a nasty surprise waiting for her…
And yes – I’ve heavily truncated the blurb which is far too chatty and this occult-tinged thriller is far too good to spoil by knowing a raft of major plotpoints in advance. I needn’t have worried about whether I’d enjoy listening to this one – I absolutely loved it. Jane McDowell does an excellent job with the narration as Ruth’s dry humour came through particularly well. This is my favourite book of the series so far. That gothic element Griffiths is fond of introducing into her stories this time around works magnificently well. I loved the way the plot steps over into paranormal, before Griffiths then provides an alternative, more mundane explanation – while still giving the reader the option of which one she’d prefer to go with…
Griffiths’ superpower is characterisation and she gets under the skin of her character cast wonderfully well, to the extent that she is able to introduce contradictory traits in her protagonists without it jarring. In short, she is thoroughly at home with these people so they ping off the page in effortless three-dimensional detail that I love.
I found Ruth’s ongoing struggle to keep working while bringing up her small daughter all too familiar – and massive kudos to Griffiths for choosing to highlight this under-represented issue in her series. While the previous book left me feeling a bit tetchy at her hand-wringing over whether she was good enough – this time, her gritted determination to protect her daughter leads her to a heart-breaking dilemma.
As for the storyline – this time around, it kept delivering twists I simply didn’t see coming and made more memorable, compelling listening. After I’d finished putting the final coat on the bathroom cupboard at 10.30 pm, I sat in the kitchen and listened a while longer as there was simply no way I could switch off my Kindle without knowing what would happen next. In amongst the unexpected deaths, Griffiths also tackles the issue of bones held by museums and universities that were collected during the UK’s colonial era that their indigenous descendants now want back. I really liked
Ruth’s discomfort as she considers the arguments. In short – there wasn’t a single aspect of this book that I could fault. The characters and setting – Griffith’s strengths – worked every bit as well as I’ve come to expect, but in addition the plotting and handling of the climactic scenes which in the past have tipped into melodrama, this time around were dealt with really well.
This is one of my favourite reads of the year so far.
Oh wow! Okay, definitely one to check out more — this sounds fantastic!
I absolutely loved it. And this one happens to be on special offer, which is how I acquired it…
Such high praise! I’m definitely checking this out, especially since you mention how good the author is at characterization 😁
Thank you, Tammy. Yes – I absolutely loved the dynamic in this one. Each of the stories has a gothic touch and to be honest – apart from the first one, I wasn’t completely convinced until we got to this particular book, where it all falls into place brilliantly.
I’m so happy to see it is doing well 4 books into the series. The combination of mystery and the archaeological and historical aspects sounds fantastic. Thanks for sharing. I’m glad to hear the audiobook is appealing as well.
I can’t testify to the others – but listening to this one was a total joy:))
Wonderful review for an excellent book! For me, Ruth IS a real person, through the author’s skillful writing. I’ve never listened to one of them by audio, however, and may try that. I wonder if they’re all done by the same reader…
Thank you, Becky:). I’m not always completely convinced by the storylines – but I’ll agree that Ruth is a fabulous character and this time around, the two came together. I don’t know if it is the same narrator for all of them, but flicking through the first 4, Jane McDowell comes up every time.
Great; thanks for checking, Sarah!
No worries – it was a good question:)
This is a great review – it definitely makes me want to check this series out although my current backlog says I should be sensible. Mmm, who can be sensible in the fact of good books?
Oh, I know that one, Lynn:). I have a TBR pile to prove my will regarding books is as firm as a bowl of jelly…
I read the first book in the series and never continued for absolutely no reason as I really enjoyed it. I think I’ll have to continue the series in audio as I have more of a chance of actually doing that and each book looks better than the last!
Oh yes – and the narrator is excellent:)). What a very good idea!
And now I’m dying to know what happens when they open that coffin!!!!! 😉
Thanks for sharing!
You’re very welcome – all I can say is that when I found out what happened when they opened that coffin, it was quite a shock…
That’s what I hoped for: a good, blood-curling shock… 😀 😀
Yes – though we aren’t talking horror, though it does have its creepy moments – remember, I’m a wuss!
Oooo, sounds perfect for fall! I keep looking for spooky reads even though it’s early September.
I’ll be honest – the spooky, slightly paranormal feel isn’t that much to the fore, otherwise wussy old me couldn’t cope. But that doesn’t prevent this one being a cracking read:)
It’s not really my genre, but it sounds like the book was doing a good job if a seasoned reader like you didn’t see the twists coming. 🙂
Ah… I am very flattered that you think I am capable of seeing most of the twists coming… I do occasionally see it – but I am a rank beginner in comparison to Himself :))
Wow! No book must have secrets from him then. 😉