Five favorite mystery writers

I love mysteries–what about you?

Connect Five Friday is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. (The hashtag is #connect5books) This is a fun and creative way to think about my books and reading. Check out Kathyrn’s blog and link up your Friday Five!

The five book-related items need to connect in some way, but each person who participates can decide for themselves what the book subject and connection is. For example, you could write about five books read last year or five books you want to read. It could even be favorite bookstores or five movies made from books.

This week I’m talking about mystery writers. These aren’t my only favorite mystery writers though these authors would all make a much longer favorite’s list. All these authors have written multiple books. I have read many of their books–sometimes all that they’ve written.

Two of these authors have died. I’ve included a sixth author since the daughter of Tony Hillerman has continued the series of books he’s famous for writing. I could have included Agatha Christie in this list since I’ve been reading her books since I was a teenager. I think she may have been the first mystery author I ever read. However, I wanted to write about authors you might not have heard of. I’ve also added four covers of their books to show a representative sample of their books.

Deborah Crombie

I discovered Deborah Crombie’s Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James mystery series about five years ago. I think I read at least 10 books in the series that first year!

This is a British police procedural series. I especially enjoy the relationship between Duncan and Gemma. The characters live in London, but several of the books take place in other parts of Great Britain. There are 18 books in the series so far and I’ve read them all!

Elly Griffiths

There are 12 books in this series so far. I’ve read 10 of them. I’m reading them slower now so I don’t run out too quickly. Elly Griffiths is writing more in this series–usually about one a year. I haven’t read the other series she writes yet so I do have that to look forward to.

The Ruth Galloway series is the series I’m reading and it’s practically a police procedural since Ruth is a forensic archaeologist and often assists the police. The books usually take place in the Norfolk area of England and the books contain bones–sometimes very old bones and sometimes bones that aren’t so old. Detective Chief Inspector Nelson is also a well-drawn character in these books. In fact, the books have so many interesting characters that I feel I know them. If I was introduced to any of them I would think of them as old friends!

Tony Hillerman & Anne Hillerman

I started reading these books when I was a teenager. I stopped reading mysteries for a while after 9/11 in 2001 so I’ve had a few I haven’t read. I have gone back and reread some of the books I read more than twenty years ago. Since Tony Hillerman wrote his first book (in the Joe Leaphorn series) in 1970 and I started reading them almost immediately I read the earliest books over 40 years ago!

The books take place in New Mexico and Arizona on the Navajo Indian Reservation. Joe Leaphorn is a lieutenant in the Navajo Tribal Police. Sgt. Jim Chee comes along later and for awhile Tony Hillerman wrote separate mysteries. Finally, he brought them together in book 7–Skinwalkers. Both characters are so good to read about and they both feel like old friends!

Ann Hillerman (Tony’s daughter) continued writing the series after Tony Hillerman died in 2008. Her first book Spider Woman’s Daughter was written in 2013 and she will publish the 24th book in the series (her sixth book) in April 2021. I skipped ahead in the series a couple years ago to read one of her books–Song of the Lion–to see if I liked her writing and I danced a happy dance!

Julia Spencer-Fleming

There are 9 books in this series so far. I love the setting of the books in upstate New York. The name of the town is evocative–Millers Kill.

The series main characters are Reverend Clare Ferguson who is an Episcopalian priest. Before she became a priest she was a soldier–a helicopter pilot–so she’s a nuanced character! Russ Van Alstyne is the Chief of Police in Millers Kill. The titles of the books come from the Episcopalian hymnal which I think is pretty awesome! I grew up Episcopalian so that drew me to these books. In several books I worried I wouldn’t continue with the series, but Julia Spencer-Fleming managed a long arc in this series with aplomb and grace. I also really like that she tackles difficult topics–addiction, PTSD and a Veteran’s support group, for example in One Was a Soldier.

Dick Francis

Dick Francis is another author I started reading as a teenager. Most of his books are stand-alone mysteries and all of them have something to do with horse racing. Dick Francis was a successful steeplechase jockey in Great Britain who began writing when he retired. He died in 2010, but his son Felix Francis is continuing to write books that have both their names on them. (I think Felix began writing with his dad before Dick Francis died.)

I love horses–and especially did as a teenager. His earliest books begin with jockeys and later on continue with main characters who aren’t jockeys and have more of a peripheral role in the horse racing world.

One of the other things I loved about reading Hillerman’s and Francis’s books is that my Mom also read them and we would talk about them. We were always so excited when we found out one of them had a new book out! I really miss talking about and sharing books since my Mom died in 2012.

Have you read any of these authors? Do you read mysteries? If you do, who are your favorite mystery writers?

My favorite books of 2019

In 2019 I read lots of books that made me happy I can read!

I’m finally getting my favorite books of the year completed. 2019 was a good reading year since I read many books I liked and many that filled me with joy. So I have lots of favorites this year!

I had set a goal for myself to read 95 books and only read 90, but that’s okay. I love to read. I think I’m reading a little slower these days. However, the important thing for me is that I’m still reading and that I enjoy most of the books I read.

I’ve added links to the books I reviewed (only three books). 😦

Mystery

Mercy Falls by William Kent Krueger, Cork O’Connor #5

This series takes place in northern Minnesota’s lake country. I love the series which features wonderful descriptions of northern Minnesota and well-written mysteries. However, I need to read them a little quicker since there are already 17 books in the series!

Burning Ridge by Margaret Mizushima, Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries #4

This is another series I love. I’m up-to-date with this series and have read these books since started being published a few years ago. I love reading about working dogs and Robo is a great example of a K-9 dog in a police department. He and Mattie are a wonderful team.

Watcher in the Woods by Kelley Armstrong, Rockton #4

This police procedural is set in one of the oddest towns I’ve read about in a mystery and there’s lots of suspense. Each book ratchets up the suspense a little more.

Fractured Truth by Susan Furlong, Bone Gap Travellers #2

Former Marines Brynn and her K-9 partner Wilco suffer from PTSD and both carry the scars from an IED explosion. Brynn tries to control the flashbacks with alcohol and pain pills–not a good combination especially since she’s now working for the McCreary County Sherrif’s Department. She’s also trying to straddle two worlds–that of the Irish Travellers (a nomadic group from Ireland who came to the U.S. during the Great Famine) and the settled townspeople (most of whom distrust the Travellers.) The mysteries are good in this series and the world of the Travellers is fascinating.

The First Eagle by Tony Hillerman, Leaphorn & Chee #13

I’ve read these mysteries since I was a teenager. My mom and I would talk about the books through the years since we both loved them. One of the best things about this series is that it’s set in the United States Southwest. For a while I stopped reading mysteries so now I’m catching up with this series. And I’m so happy that Tony Hillerman’s daughter Anne Hillerman has continued writing the series after he died.

The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #8

The books in this series are so well written. Sometimes they’re difficult to read since heartbreaking things happen to characters I like. Things that happen in one book may have far-reaching impact several books later and then we see how skillfully Louise Penny has intertwined so much into her books.

A Bitter Feast by Deborah Crombie, Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James #18

I was so happy to read this book since it has been several years since Deborah Crombie had written a book in the series. When I read about Duncan and Gemma and their family it’s like having a chat with old friends. And the mysteries are good, too!

The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths, Ruth Galloway #9

I’m always happy to return to Ruth’s world. She’s such an interesting character and I love the mysteries which always have something to do with her forensic archaeology work.

Science Fiction

Exit Strategy by Martha Wells, The Murderbot Diaries #4

I’ve loved every single one of the Murderbot books. They are original, an adventure story and also thought-provoking.

Borderline by Janet Edwards, Hive Mind #4

I like everything I’ve read by Janet Edwards. This series is one I especially love. Ms. Edwards has a great way of writing exciting stories about characters I care about. And her world building is so good. It takes place in Earth’s future.

Mantivore Dreams by S.G. Higbee, Arcadian Chronicles #1

I like the way this book slowly unfolds so that it gives readers time to try to figure things out themselves. I also like that by the end of the book there are threads for future books, but that this book is a complete story. I need to get that next book read! The world building is especially good and I like the way Kyrillia grows and changes throughout the book.

A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World by C.A. Fletcher

I chose to read this book because it was about a dog! I love the bond between Griz and the dogs. However, the book is a post apocalyptic science fiction so the book is good, but also has an overall feeling of sadness.

The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley

I feel like a lot of science fiction really makes you think in a different way and that’s kind of what this book did for me. It’s also post apocalyptic, military science fiction and during parts of the book I wasn’t really sure what was happening! It went different directions than I thought it would.

Ascending by Meg Pechenick, The Vardeshi Saga #1

Margaret (Meg) Pechenick is a new author to me. (S.G. Higbee @ Brainfluff reviewed this book. I find out about so many good books from her.) I loved this science fiction about aliens visiting Earth and inviting a group of Earthlings to visit their part of space.

Doing Time by Jodi Taylor, The Time Police #1

This was book one of a new series–The Time Police–that came out in fall 2019. It’s a spin-off of The Chronicles of St. Mary’s series. These are both time travel series and so much fun. I’m doing a happy dance that Jodi Taylor decided to start another series which comes at the time travel idea from a slightly different angle. Can’t wait for the next book!

Urban Fantasy

These are my favorite urban fantasies (which are about the only fantasies I read these days) and I’ve read every book as they’ve been published!

Wild Country by Anne Bishop, The World of the Others #2 (The Others #7)

The world building in these books is one of the most appealing parts of this series. It very different from other urban fantasy series I read.

Storm Cursed by Patricia Briggs, Mercy Thompson #11

Mercy Thompson is such a great character. She doesn’t always do the smart thing, but she’s such a loyal friend and she tries to do what’s right for the people she’s responsible for. And I love the world Patricia Briggs has created.

Between Homes by W.R. Gingell, The City Between #5

This series is so unique and the last book has really ratcheted up the suspense. I hope another book comes soon in this world where Fae often come and go in the human world, but very few humans manage to survive a trip either Between or Behind. And most humans don’t even know they exist.

Fiction

Doggirl by Robin Brande

I loved this book! It’s young adult which I seldom like or read, but this book about a high school girl who wants to be an animal trainer for movies is just lovely. And the dogs are wonderful!

The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan

An out-of-work librarian, a bookstore on wheels and remote towns without libraries all come together in this wonderful book. There’s even some romance in it! And it’s set in Scotland!

Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts by Lucy Dillon

I loved all the dogs in this book plus the human characters are great fun to read about.

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

At the end of the book I felt so happy I’d read this which is one of the reasons I love reading. It’s set in Maine which is one of my favorite places and Evvie Drake is a great character. She’s certainly not perfect, but she’s someone I’d love to talk to. Linda Holmes is also one of the hosts of the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast which I love to listen to.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

One of my most favorite books of 2019! So glad I read it. The language flows and the characters are so vivid–especially Kya (aka “Marsh Girl”). The book is heartbreaking at times, but ultimately a wonderful read. It’s historical fiction, almost a natural history of the North Carolina swamps and marshland and a mystery all set in swamps along the North Carolina Coast. It switches back and forth between Kya’s childhood in the 1950’s and a murder that happens in 1969. Cassandra Campbell narrated the audiobook and made my enjoyment of the book so vivid and immersive.

Memoir

Becoming by Michelle Obama

I don’t usually read memoirs or biographies, but I enjoyed this one a lot–especially since I listened to the audiobook narrated by Michelle Obama. By the end I felt like we had met! So interesting to hear about her childhood, her meeting and marriage to Barack Obama, and then her life as the First Lady in the White House. She’s such an inspirational person.

Have you read any of these books? What were some of your favorite books of the year?

Can’t Wait Wednesday: The Lantern Men by Elly Griffiths

Features a forensic archaeologist who is sometimes called in to consult with the police

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings. This is a weekly meme to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. The books I choose aren’t released yet and usually won’t be published for at least two or three months. So I have a while to wait!

I love finding out about books set to publish in future months and I like to share my excitement about the books. I also like to find out about new books on other people’s blogs and hope they’ll sometimes find something to look forward to on my blog.

I’m excited to read . . .

The Lantern Men

by Elly Griffiths

Series: Ruth Galloway #12

Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Publishing date: June 16, 2020

Genre: Mystery

356 pages

Synopsis: Forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway changed her life—until a convicted killer tells her that four of his victims were never found, drawing her back to the place she left behind.

Everything has changed for Ruth Galloway. She has a new job, home, and partner, and she is no longer North Norfolk police’s resident forensic archaeologist. That is, until convicted murderer Ivor March offers to make DCI Nelson a deal. Nelson was always sure that March killed more women than he was charged with. Now March confirms this and offers to show Nelson where the other bodies are buried—but only if Ruth will do the digging.

………………………….

One of my very favorite mystery series. I love the characters Elly Griffiths has created in this series–especially Ruth and Cathbad. Ruth is a forensic archaeologist and the way Ms. Giffiths weaves that into the central part of each book is wonderful. Each character in these books is interesting, but they are also very human which makes these books especially readable. They grow and change during the course of the series. And, of course, the mysteries are great!

Can’t Wait Wednesday: The Stone Circle by Elly Griffiths

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings. This is a weekly meme to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. The books I choose aren’t released yet and usually won’t be published for at least two or three months. So I have a while to wait!

I love finding out about books which will publish in future months and I like to share my excitement about the books. I also like to find out about new books on other people’s blogs and hope they’ll sometimes find something to look forward to on my blog.

I’m excited to read . . .

The Stone Circle by Elly Griffiths

Series: Ruth Galloway #11

Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Publishing date: May 7

Genre: Mystery

Synopsis: DCI Nelson has been receiving threatening letters. They are anonymous, yet reminiscent of ones he has received in the past, from the person who drew him into a case that’s haunted him for years. At the same time, Ruth receives a letter purporting to be from that very same person—her former mentor, and the reason she first started working with Nelson. But the author of those letters is dead. Or is he?

The past is reaching out for Ruth and Nelson, and its grip is deadly. 

………………………………….

I love this series! Ruth is a forensic archaeologist and throughout these books she’s called in by DCI Nelson and the police to check on the ages of bones. Sometimes the bones police find are from more recent murder victims and sometimes they’re thousands of years older! Good characters and good mysteries.

Review: The Woman in Blue by Elly Griffiths

The Woman in Blue by Elly GriffithsThe Woman in Blue by Elly Griffiths

Series: Ruth Galloway #8

Genre: Mystery

Setting: Norfolk, England

Source: Audiobook, purchased (9 hours, 44 minutes)

Narrator: Jane McDowell

Publishing Date: 2016

358 pages

Synopsis: Known as England’s Nazareth, the medieval town of Little Walsingham is famous for religious apparitions. So when Ruth Galloway’s druid friend Cathbad sees a woman in a white dress and a dark blue cloak standing alone in the local cemetery one night, he takes her as a vision of the Virgin Mary. But then a woman wrapped in blue cloth is found dead the next day, and Ruth’s old friend Hilary, an Anglican priest, receives a series of hateful, threatening letters. Could these crimes be connected? When one of Hilary’s fellow female priests is murdered just before Little Walsingham’s annual Good Friday Passion Play, Ruth, Cathbad, and DCI Harry Nelson must team up to find the killer before he strikes again. 

My thoughts

One of my favorite mystery series. Ruth Galloway is such a good character in these books. She’s a forensic archaeologist, a college professor, a single mom and helps the police on occasion. It sounds like she would be obnoxiously organized and efficient. However, she’s like most of us–she feels constantly busy with never enough time! She does love her life though–being a mom and teaching with occasional archaeology digging and police consultations. The book takes place in Little Walsingham in the county of Norfolk in England. It is known as a village with many shrines to the Virgin Mary and that features strongly in this mystery.

I listened to the audio version of this book and like the narrator a lot. She did a good job with the different voices and was easy to hear and understand. Made the story even more interesting.

Throughout these books one of the best things are all the friends Ruth has. In this book Cathbad, a long-time friend of Ruth’s, appears in the beginning of the book since he’s in Walsingham taking care of a cat and house sitting for a friend. When the cat escapes from the house Cathbad rushes in pursuit and sees a woman in blue in the graveyard near the house. He wonders if he has seen a vision of the Virgin Mary, but the woman later is found strangled.

It’s great to see DCI Harry Nelson and Sergeant Clough again. There are many pieces to the mystery. Ruth gets involved when a friend from her university days comes to Walsingham for a conference and gets in touch with Ruth. Hilary says she has a problem and wants to talk about it with Ruth. Hilary has received a number of threatening letters from someone who doesn’t like the fact she’s a woman priest. A good mystery which kept me guessing. And if you haven’t read the books before this be sure to read the earlier books first as each builds on the one before

My Rating: A-

Narrator Rating: B+

Have you read any books by this author?

Reading Challenges

Cloak and Dagger Reading Challenge hosted by Stormi @ Books, Movies, Reviews! Oh My!

Can’t Wait Wednesday: The Dark Angel by Elly Griffiths

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings. This is a weekly meme to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. The books I choose aren’t released yet and usually won’t be published for at least two or three months.

I love finding out about books which will publish in future months and I like to share my excitement about the books. I also like to find out about new books on other people’s blogs and hope they’ll sometimes find something to look forward to on my blog.

I’m excited to read . . .

The Dark Angel by Elly Griffiths

Series: Ruth Galloway #10

Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Publishing date: May 15, 2018

Genre: Mystery

336 pages

Synopsis: It’s not every day that you’re summoned to the Italian countryside on business, so when archaeologist Angelo Morelli asks for Ruth Galloway’s help identifying bones found in the tiny hilltop town of Fontana Liri, she jumps at the chance to go, bringing her daughter along with her for a working vacation. Upon arriving, she begins to hear murmurs of Fontana Liri’s strong resistance movement during World War II and senses the townspeople are dancing around a deeply buried secret. But how could that be connected to the ancient remains she’s been studying?
 
Ruth is just beginning to get her footing in the dig when she’s thrown off-guard by the appearance of DCI Nelson. And when Ruth’s findings lead them to a modern-day murder, their holidays are both turned upside down, and they race to find out what darkness is lurking in this seemingly picturesque town.

……………….

What a great cover! This is one of my favorite series. Ruth Galloway is an archaeologist and all the mysteries revolve around her work. I love that. And this book takes place in Italy so that will be so fun.

What books are you looking forward to?

Who done it?

This year I’m trying something different with the books I read. I’m not going to do a separate review for every book I read. I need to shake-up my blog a bit and this is one way I’ve decided to do it.

These are some of the mysteries I’ve read since the first of the year.

Real Murders and A Bone to Pick by Charlaine Harris (Aurora Teagarden series #1 & 2)

Audiobook, purchased, narrated by Thérèse Plummer

Charlaine Harris wrote a new book–Sleep Like a Baby–in this series last fall. I had considered rereading some of the mysteries she wrote before she started writing the Sookie Stackhouse series.

A new book in the Aurora Teagarden series was impetus to start with that series. I own most of the paperbacks in this series and had bought the audio edition of the the first book–Real Murders–which I listened to last fall. I like the narration of this book. I didn’t really remember too much about Real Murders or A Bone to Pick even though I had read them years ago.

Real Murders revolves around Roe Teagarden’s membership in the Real Murders Club. The members are interested in true crime–especially historical cases. Each member tends to specialize in a particular murderer and murders. It’s great fun until the members of the club start dying. The deaths resemble the murders of some of their favorite murderers.

I don’t like true crime so I found their pastime morbid and icky. I did enjoy reading about Roe and the rest of the characters as well as the mystery.

Rating: B-

Paperback, purchased

In A Bone to Pick the Real Murders Club has disbanded and Roe inherits an estate from one of the former members of the club. Inheriting the estate isn’t all roses, however. Roe has many questions. She not only inherits her friend’s house and money, but everything in the house including a skull which was cleverly hidden. Why did her friend leave her all this money and the house? They weren’t that close. Why is the skull hidden in the house? Where is the rest of the body. Did her friend kill someone? Why did someone break into the house?

I like this series. Roe is an engaging character and I like the Southern vibe. (I don’t live in the South. If I lived there that vibe might irritate me!) I like the fact that Roe moves along in her life from the first book to the second book. She embraces the fact that she has inherited an estate and uses that to change things in her life. I also enjoy many of the other recurring characters in the book.

An enjoyable, light read.

Rating: B

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Dying Fall by Elly Griffiths (Ruth Galloway #5)

E-audiobook from the library, narrated by Clare Corbett

dying-fall-by-elly-griffiths

I’ve read three books in this series since the beginning of the year. It’s hard not to gobble them all up since I like this series so much. However, I want to space them out and really savor them! I’ve listened to a few books in this series and really like the narrations.

This book is mostly set in the north of England–in Blackpool–where Harry Nelson is from. Harry and his wife Michelle are there visiting their families. He also visits his old police friends and gets involved in their cases. He also realizes he and his old friends don’t have much in common anymore. It’s always hard to realize that you no longer understand old friends.

Ruth also travels north to investigate what might be King Arthur’s bones. One of Ruth’s old friends discovered the bones, but then died in a house fire. Cathbad comes along and helps take care of Ruth’s toddler daughter Kate. Of course, awkwardness occurs when Ruth and Kate accidentally meet up with Harry and Michelle Nelson.

Sometimes the mood in this book is bittersweet and a number of things change for a number of the characters in this book. The suspense kept me listening as fast as I could!

Rating: B+

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The Outcast Dead by Elly Griffiths (Ruth Galloway #6)

E-book, purchased

This book continues some of the events which happened to characters in the last book. I like that we learn more about a number of continuing characters throughout these books. They change during these books as well as the main characters. Lots happens to some of the characters in this book.

I like the way Elly Griffiths ties the historical aspects of her books into the present day aspects. She makes them very relevant to her story.

This was a difficult book for me since children are in danger. I don’t like that kind of suspense very well. However, this is a good mystery and I did enjoy it. Still one of my favorite mystery series.

Rating: B

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Dead Man’s Fancy by Keith McCafferty (Sean Stranahan #3)

Trade paperback, purchased (bought in the Country Bookshelf in downtown Bozeman, Montana when we took our road trip last fall)

Sean is an interesting character. He’s originally from the Northeast, but moved to Montana after his marriage failed. He has discovered he fits in so much better than he did in the Northeast. He’s been a fly fisherman since he was a child and he did some private detective work where he lived before.

He’s also an artist so in Montana he sets up a studio where he paints, but also advertises his detective services. He gets a few cases as well as selling some paintings. He meets Sheriff Martha Ettinger during his first investigation–The Royal Wulff Murders. Martha shows up in all the books and the books have a police procedural vibe.

The books revolve around fly fishing and Montana. Each book is named after a named fly tie which has something to do with the murder. I like that aspect. The author is a wildlife writer for outdoor magazines and does a great job with not only the mysteries, but also with the fly fishing aspect of the books. I like reading about the outdoors and fishing. I grew up in Oregon and spent lots of time with my parents camping, hiking and fishing. Other people might not enjoy the fishing aspects of the books so much.

This book has lots of aspects to it. The tension between environmentalists and ranchers as well as wolf lovers and wolf haters. A woman searching for her missing sister. And just who was the missing woman? There are so many contradictions to her. Dead Man’s Fancy has lots of twists and turns which I enjoyed. It’s hard to know exactly what is important and what isn’t.

Rating: B+

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The Armada Boy by Kate Ellis (Wesley Peterson #2)

E-book, Purchased

I recently reviewed the first book in this series–The Merchant’s House.

The mystery of the murder of a WWII American veteran keeps my interest and I find the detective team interesting.

I’m still not completely convinced yet about the archaeology aspects of these books. I do like the excerpts written by a character in this book at the beginning of each chapter talking about the “invasions” in this part of England which tie the Armada invasion with the WWII invasion of American soldiers. Even though the American were allies they completely disrupted life in this part of the world as  the Armada survivors might have done. The American allies weren’t always seen as a positive influence during or after WWII.

I really like the contemporary portions–the mystery and characters make for a good story. I’m looking forward to reading more books in this series.

Rating: B-

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Have you read any of these books? How did you like them?

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Review: A Room Full of Bones by Elly Griffiths

a-room-full-of-bones-by-elly-griffithsA Room Full of Bones by Elly Griffiths

Ruth Galloway #4

E-book, purchased

Mystery

Set in Norfolk, England, A Room Full of Bones embroils, once again, our brainy heroine in a crime tinged by occult forces. On Halloween night, the Smith 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 forensic archaelogist Ruth Galloway arrives to supervise, she finds the curator, Neil Topham, dead beside the coffin. Topham’s death seems to be related to other uncanny incidents, including the arcane and suspect methods of a group called the Elginists, which aims to repatriate the museum’s extensive collection of Aborigine skulls; the untimely demise of the museum’s owner, Lord Smith; and the sudden illness of DCI Harry Nelson, who Ruth’s friend Cathbad believes is lost in The Dreaming — a hallucinogenic state central to some Indigenous Australian beliefs. Tensions build as Nelson’s life hangs in the balance. Something must be done to set matters right and lift Nelson out of the clutches of death, but will Ruth be able to muster herself out of a state of guilt and foreboding in order to do what she does best?

………………………..

Since I read the first book in the series in October 2016 this series has become one of my favorites! Ruth Galloway is such an interesting character–both as a person and as a forensic archaeologist. I recommend you read the books in order. I think you’ll enjoy them a lot more and they are all so good!

Recurring characters in the books

Cathbad–a Druid, but also a scientist who works in the Chemistry Department at the university. He seems to have some uncanny abilities–especially when Ruth, Kate or Nelson are in trouble.

DCI Harry Nelson–He’s a no-nonsense copper and doesn’t believe in “hocus-pocus.” However, he’s a friend of Cathbad, much to his own amazement. He’s a good policeman–conscientious and honest. He pushes his team hard, but pushes himself just as hard. Nelson comes from Blackpool–“…[he] still thinks of himself as a Northerner, which, in his mind, is synonymous with sharp wits and a proper sense of humour.”

Michelle Nelson–Nelson’s wife. She’s beautiful and Nelson still is in awe that she married him. Michelle owns a beauty shop and they have two college-age daughters.

Shona–Ruth’s best friend. Shona is living with Ruth’s married boss and is now five month’s pregnant. Shona is an English professor. Sometimes Shona isn’t that reliable a friend, but Ruth doesn’t have too many friends.

Ruth–Forensic archaeologist and university professor. Ruth is called by the police occasionally to consult with them when bones are found to help determine if the bones are recent or hundreds or thousands of years old. That is how she met DCI Nelson in the first book.

Kate–Ruth’s one year old daughter. Ruth is raising her alone and has little experience with babies, but she and Kate are muddling along. Ruth is doing the best she can for Kate even though she has “the working mom’s guilt” and is often tired and uncertain. Kate is developing her own personality and it’s a strong one. When Shona suggests Ruth have a birthday party for Kate’s first birthday….

“Kate doesn’t play with her friends,” Ruth had protested. “She hits them over the head with stickle bricks mostly.” But she had allowed herself to be convinced. And part of her does think that it will be a lovely occasion, a rare chance for her to sit back and watch Kate tearing off wrapping paper and shoving E-numbers in her mouth and think: I haven’t done such a bad job of being a mother, after all.

My thoughts

Ruth is called to consult about the bones in a coffin in a museum, but when she finds the museum curator dead beside the coffin Harry Nelson is called in.

I like the intelligence Ruth shows and the love she has for her profession. Now that she is a mother she is often pulled several ways–in her professional life as a teacher and an expert and her life as a mother. The birth of Kate has made Ruth’s life much more complicated, but it also enriched her life and she’s so happy she made the decision to keep Kate. I also like her friendships with various characters in these books–especially Cathbad and DCI Nelson.

The mystery

The museum also has Australian Aborigine bones and a group calling themselves the Elginists is demanding the bones return to Australia for burial. Ruth is appalled when she views the room full of bones in the museum. The bones are jumbled together in a small room in the museum basement. They were collected by the present museum owner’s great-grandfather–apparently dug up in Australia from graves. Ruth believes in treating human bones respectfully. But the great-grandson is rather proud of his great-grandfather and has no intention of returning the bones.

Are the deaths of the curator and the owner of the museum plus DCI Nelson’s mysterious illness related to the bones and a curse? Or is it a curse related to the coffin of the medieval bishop? And is there something paranormal going on, too? What is The Dreaming?

Rating: B+

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Waiting on Wednesday: January 4

I am participating in Waiting on Wednesday hosted by Breaking the Spine. This gives me a chance to show the books I’m looking forward to in the next few months.

Check out Breaking the Spine for more information.

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The Chalk Pit

by Elly Griffiths

Series: Ruth Galloway #9

Genre: Mystery

Publication date: February 16

Synopsis: Boiled human bones have been found in Norwich’s web of underground tunnels. When Dr Ruth Galloway discovers they are recent – the boiling not the medieval curiosity she thought – DCI Nelson has a murder enquiry on his hands.

Meanwhile, DS Judy Johnson is investigating the disappearance of a local rough sleeper. The only trace of her is the rumour that she’s gone ‘underground’. This might be a figure of speech, but with the discovery of the bones and the rumours both Ruth and the police have heard of a vast network of old chalk-mining tunnels under King’s Lynn, home to a vast community of rough sleepers, the clues point in only one direction. Local academic Martin Kellerman knows all about the tunnels and their history – but can his assertions of cannibalism and ritual killing possibly be true?

As the weather gets hotter, tensions rise. A local woman goes missing and the police are under attack. Ruth and Nelson must unravel the dark secrets of The Underground and discover just what gruesome secrets lurk at its heart – before it claims another victim.

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The reasons this book appeals to me:
  • I’ve read the first three or four of the Ruth Galloway series and think they’re great. I’m so happy Ms. Griffiths is still writing books in this series.
  • Dr. Ruth Galloway’s job–forensic archaeology at a university–is so interesting. The author’s husband is an archaeologist so I feel like she knows something about archaeology.
  • I also enjoy reading about Ruth’s personal life.

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