This is my first blog since my New Year break skiing as it has been a very busy time at work indeed. Thankfully made manageable, however, by the wonderful Elly Griffiths crime fiction series starring Dr Ruth Galloway, a single Feminist academic who, somewhat predictably, I love. My sister gave me the first in the series for Christmas (see my Christmas reading blog), I immediately bought the next nine books, and finally the eleventh when it was published last month. It’s been great to be able to gorge on them and read them all at once, and I’m glad I discovered them now and didn’t have to wait patiently until each was published. They have been a real treat in the depths of winter and have enabled me to switch my work brain off at night to relax before going to sleep. I would highly recommend them to anyone who enjoys modern crime fiction.
Ruth lives in the wilds of Norfolk on the edge of a salt marsh, all alone with her cat, and after book one, her daughter. She only has a couple of neighbours who come and go and loves the blissful solitude of her own home and what often feels like her own salt marsh. By day she lectures at the University of North Norfolk as an archeologist, that is when she is not helping the local constabulary solve a succession of heinous crimes. Ruth is brought in each time by DCI Harry Nelson, whenever bones are discovered and he needs a forensic archaeologist to date them. But somehow, Ruth is always integral to solving these modern murders, often putting her own life on the line. Meanwhile she is rushing around trying to balance life as a single Mum, her career, colleagues, friends and family. Nelson is happily married to Michelle, but he and Ruth can’t help but find themselves drawn together, and it is a classically tantalising and drawn-out will they/won’t they over the series.
Ruth is such a great character, that I am happy to forgive the Midsomer Murder murder rate that is implausibly high, though there is the odd murder in Blackpool and Italy to deal with along the way. Ruth is so relatable that I want to curl up on her sofa, reach for a glass of her wine and put my feet up with her cat once she has got her daughter Kate to bed, or give her a ring for a chat on the phone. The landscapes are also beautifully described, and whilst flat marshland is not normally for me, it is so clearly brought to life that I can feel myself driving along the pitch black country roads, with nothing but marsh on either side.
If you enjoy great characters, great whodunnits and great fun, then do read these books.